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The Tesla Model 3 topped an April new car registrations table that saw sales predictably virtually stop amid the current shutdown, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The market was down 97.3% on April 2019, with just 4321 new cars registered, more than 15% of which were the 658 examples of the electric Model 3, with the Jaguar I-Pace second place to make it an EV top two. Its 367 registrations were thanks largely to the salary sacrifice deal the brand struck with the NHS earlier this year. The top 10 drops off rapidly after that, with only five vehicles – the two EVs plus Vauxhall’s Corsa and Crossland X and the Ford Tourneo Custom, which would have been sold through Ford’s Transit centres, which were more operational than car dealerships.

Fleet registrations accounted for me than three quarters of new car sales last month.

“With the UK’s showrooms closed for the whole of April, the market’s worst performance in living

memory is hardly surprising,” said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes. “These figures, however, still make for exceptionally grim reading, not least for the hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on the sector.

“A strong new car market supports a healthy economy and as Britain starts to plan for recovery, we need car retail to be in the vanguard,” he continued. “Safely restarting this most critical sector and revitalising what will, inevitably, be subdued demand will be key to unlocking manufacturing and accelerating the UK’s economic regeneration.”

The SMMT has downgraded its 2020 forecast to 1.68m vehicles, which would be the lowest figure since the 1.59m recorded in 1992, and a year-on-year drop if 27%. The battery electric car market is though expected to double in size, with predictions of more than 77,000 new EVs hitting the road during 2020.

First Drive: Tesla Model 3


Fleet market grows marginally in 2019