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UK First Half 2020: EVs (+158.6%), Tesla, MG and Toyota highlight market battered to weakest in 49 years

Thanks to the new ZS EV, MG sales gain 22.7% in 2020.

New car sales in the UK collapse -48.5% or 616.000 units to just 653.502 over the First Half of 2020. This is the lowest H1 volume in almost 50 years: since 1971 (623.483), at a time when the Austin Morris 1100/1300 was the best-seller. 240.000 private sales were lost since the start of lockdown, resulting in an estimated £1.1 billion loss to the Treasury in VAT receipts alone. Each month over the period was down year-on-year, from modest declines in January (-7.3%) and February (-2.9%) to the Covid-19 collapse of March (-44.4%), April (-97.3%) and May (-89%) and the timid restart of June (-34.9%) which was nevertheless better than we anticipated and as such, we at BSCB have adjusted our UK 2020 forecast from 1.44m (-38%) to 1.52m (-34%). Concerns remain for H2 however, with the government’s Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme winding down and major employers across all sectors announcing significant job losses. According to the SMMT, “the subsequent effect on livelihoods as well as on business and consumer confidence will not help a depressed market.” The SMMT is lobbying for government intervention and says “the government must boost the economy, help customers feel safer in their jobs and in their spending and give businesses the confidence to invest in their fleets.” To this date, the UK government has not announced any incentive plans such as the ones already implemented in France and announced in Spain and now Italy.

Tesla sales are up 12-fold on the same period in 2019 thanks to the Model 3.

Over the period, private demand has proven a little more resilient than the market at -44.6% to 314.588 units and 48.1% share vs. 44.8% over H1 2019, while fleet sales have cratered -51.5% to 325.518, slipping below the symbolic 50% barrier at 49.8% vs. 52.9% a year ago while business sales are off -54.9% to 13.396. Petrol vehicle sales remain dominant but fall faster than the market at -52.3% to 392.608 and 60.1% share vs. 64.8% a year ago while diesel sales crumble down -64.9% to 118.957 and 18.2% share vs. 26.7%. The big change for 2020 is alternatively fuelled vehicles as a whole now easily outsell diesel thanks to deliveries shooting up 32.2% to 141.937 and 21.7% share vs. just 8.5% a year ago. In the detail, BEV are up 158.6% to 30.957 and 4.7% share vs. 0.9%, PHEV up 28.9% to 19.508 and 3% vs. 1.2%, HEV down -19.7% to 39.328 and 6% share vs. 3.9% and MHEV up 66.7% to 52.144 and 8% vs. 2.5%.

Toyota scores the best hold in the Top 20 at -30.6%.

In the brands ranking, Ford (-53.1%) reclaims the YTD lead off Volkswagen (-46.9%) in-extremis in June at 9.2% share vs. 9% for the German carmaker. BMW (-48.3%) leaps up two spots on last year to land on the podium, distancing Mercedes (-50.9%) and Audi (-50.2%) while Toyota (-30.6%) signs the best hold in the Top 10 (and Top 20) overtaking Vauxhall (-60.3%) in complete perdition to #6 thanks to a historical podium finish in June. Kia (-45.6%) and Nissan (-42.9%) exchange positions just as Land Rover (-39.1%) breaks into its home Top 10. Volvo (-41%), Skoda (-44%), Mini (-45%), Seat (-46.4%) and Jaguar (-46.6%) all outrace the market in the remainder of the Top 20, while beyond Tesla (+1142.8%) becomes mainstream at #21 and MG (+22.7%) ignores the Covid-19 crisis thanks notably to the new ZS EV. Notice also Lexus (-19.7%), Alpine (-32.9%), Bentley (-34.6%), Ssangyong (-38.6%) and Porsche (-40%) surviving somewhat.

The Ford Focus and VW Golf are fighting for the 2nd spot like in 2019.

Model-wise, despite the tumultuous context the Top 6 remains unchanged on H1 2019, with the Ford Fiesta (-51.3%) keeping the lead despite only winning in January, the Ford Focus (-43.7%) manages to retain the 2nd spot thanks to a poor generation transition by the VW Golf (-43.2%) which led the market overall in both February and March but hasn’t yet recovered from Covid-19 disruption. The Vauxhall Corsa (-41.1%) topped the UK charts in June resists best in the Top 8 and managed to remain inside the UK all through the lockdown, indicating a solid uptake of the new generation. Rounding out the Top 6 like last year are the Nissan Qashqai (-49.3%) and Mercedes A-Class (-50.8%) failing to march the market decline. The Mini (-41.8%) advances to #7 while the Toyota Yaris (-47.1%) breaks into the Top 10 thanks to a fantastic June result when it lodged its first ever podium finish, as does the Kia Sportage (-36.3%) posting the best hold in the Top 10. Leader during the write-off months of April and May partly due to its no-showroom distribution model than enabled it to bypass lockdowns, the Tesla Model 3 ends the period just outside the Top 10.

More complete models data will be uploaded to this article when made available to us.

Previous post: UK June 2020: Toyota and Yaris both sign first ever podium in shy market restart (-34.9%)

One year ago: UK First Half 2019: Mercedes A-Class (+39.5%) and Volvo (+27%) superstars in Brexit-anxious market (-3.4%)

Full H1 2020 Top 40 brands and Top 10 models vs. Full H1 2019 figures below.

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