New car sales in the UK in 2020 hit their lowest level since 1992, but it was the best year for electric cars with battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles market share up to 10.7%.
The UK new car market fell by almost a third (29.4%) in 2020, with annual registrations dropping to 1,631,064 units, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
A 10.9% decline in December wrapped up a year blighted by pandemic shutdowns, which saw demand fall by 680,076 units.
Diesel cars had the worst year with sales declining 55% from 581,774 to 262,772 and market share falling from 25.2% to 16%. Petrol car sales were down 39% from 1,482,409 to 903,961, and market share declined from 64.1% to 55.4%.
However, demand for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) grew by 185.9% to 108,205 units, increasing their market share to 6.6%, while registrations of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rose 91.2% to 66,877, and a 4.1% market share.
The Tesla Model 3 was the top seller in December with 5,798 units, but the Ford Fiesta held onto its position as the top seller in 2020 with 49,174 units.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “2020 will be seen as a lost year for Automotive, with the sector under pandemic-enforced shutdown for much of the year and uncertainty over future trading conditions taking their toll. However, with the rollout of vaccines and clarity over our new relationship with the EU, we must make 2021 a year of recovery.
“With manufacturers bringing record numbers of electrified vehicles to market over the coming months, we will work with government to encourage drivers to make the switch, while promoting investment in our globally-renowned manufacturing base – recharging the market, industry and economy.”