The Tesla Model 3 was the top-selling car in the UK for the second month running as new car registrations fell 89.0% in May, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).


A total of 20,247 cars were registered in the month, as ‘click and collect’ services, allowed from mid-month, saw some movement in the market. However, with 163,477 fewer registrations than in the same month last year, the performance still marked the lowest May since 1952.

The Tesla Model 3 was the top seller with 852 units, but does not even make the top 10 for the year to date, which is headed by the Ford Fiesta with 16,712 sales this year.

The high sales of the Tesla skewed the figures for May so that battery electric vehicles took a 12.0% market share compared with 1.1% a year ago. Petrol cars took a 55.1% market share with diesels on 17.0%

The overall market is now down 51.4% in the first five months of 2020, at just over half a million registrations compared with more than one million at this point last year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “After a second month of shutdown and the inevitable yet devastating impact on the market, this week’s re-opening of dealerships is a pivotal moment for the entire industry and the thousands of people whose jobs depend on it.

“Customers keen to trade up into the latest, cutting-edge new cars are now able to return to showrooms and early reports suggest there is good business given the circumstances, although it is far too early to tell how demand will pan out over the coming weeks and months.

“Restarting this market is a crucial first step in driving the recovery of Britain’s critical car manufacturers and supply chain, and to supporting the wider economy. Ensuring people have the confidence to invest in the latest vehicles will not only help them get on the move safely, but these new models will also help address some of the environmental challenges the UK faces in the long term.”