UK auto sector looks to second half of year for real recovery

Following the news that the UK’s new car market was down 35.5% in the month of February, according to data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT);

David Leggett, Automotive Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“February’s weak car sales result was no great surprise given lockdown restrictions and it is to the retailers’ credit that the decline was kept down to 35%, supported by ‘click and collect’ innovations.

“Yesterday’s Budget statement underlines the challenges ahead for the UK economy as it navigates a recovery phase of uncertain magnitude. UK car retailers face ongoing lockdown restrictions until at least April 12th and the return of demand won’t replace the heavy loss of car sales – estimated at £23 billion – over the past year. The UK car market this year will struggle to reach 1.8 million units which compares with 2.3 million sales in pre-pandemic 2019.

“On the plus side, the second half of this year could see a more general return of consumer and business confidence as pandemic effects diminish further. By the middle of 2022, the UK economy could conceivably be back to its pre-Covid level if all goes well, with a new car market heading towards 2 million units for the year. Risks will be ever-present though.”

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