How has Lockdowns Affected the Automotive Industry?

We all know how tough the last year or so has been on everyone and every industry, but how badly has this recent pandemic damaged the industry and sales? And what changes have come about because of this? 

The Impact: Lockdown 1

In particular, in the UK, we have been struggling with Covid cases and deaths severely. Businesses have shut forever, some can’t open legally under lockdown, while others are still thriving. Times have truly been uncertain. When we take a look at the automotive industry the story seems typical of most businesses. Sales have been affected, staff have been lost, showrooms and test driving hasn’t been allowed. But you need to step back and look at the bigger picture to see how the industry has been affected.

In April of 2020, new car sales had nose-dived by an astronomical 97.3% according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Come the end of the first lockdown, sales had picked up again but still remained almost 50% lower compared to the same time in 2019. 

Usually, when September hits with the launch of a new license plate number there is a boom in sales, but of course, 2020 was not what we expected. It took until October for the knock-on of the sales to see an increase of just over 15% to see the figures still down by 31% in 2019, but this was still an improvement on previous months.

Less Traffic on the Roads

The majority of workers had to work from home, have been furloughed, or worst of all have seen their jobs lost to redundancies. The law requiring all eligible employees to work from home saw the UK roads drastically quieten. Essentially journeys for food, medicine or key work travel were our only journeys, and for many of us, those trips tend to be less than an hour.

The lack of driving can be seen as a positive in many ways, with drastically less damage being done to the ozone for almost a year, while the ‘health’ of many people’s cars has been greatly prolonged. The decrease in usage for some may mean that they have not needed to upgrade their vehicles as soon as perhaps planned.

A Boost for EVs and Hybrid Vehicles

The one thing I think we have all noticed is the huge increase in the number of new electric and hybrid vehicles hitting the showrooms. Perhaps the David Attenborough documentary may have also had an impact on drivers wanting to be more environmentally conscientious, but whatever the cause, this has been great for all manufacturers of electric and hybrid cars. 

What does 2021 look like for the Industry?

So far, 2021 is feeling rather similar to this time last year, but at least there is an end in sight. The automotive industry hasn’t stopped its endless new releases and tech, and with 100 fold more EVs coming into the market, I think the future is bright as we step into a new age of mobility and manufacturing. 

Sales are recovering and look like they are back on the way up! So unless we get thrown into another lockdown, we should see the industry normalising and even pushing on with new manufacturers coming into the frey, and an overall move towards sustainability!


Posted 10/03/2021 Back to Blog

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