Sales of electric vehicles held up in April despite a coronavirus induced market-wide collapse, according to latest industry data.
1,374 battery electric vehicles were registered in April, down 9.7 per cent year on year.
However, petrol and diesel models plunged around 98 per cent as dealers shuttered showrooms.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said other European markets faced similar historic lows, with France back 88 per cent and Italy 97.5 per cent.
Across all categories, SMMT forecasts 2020 UK registrations to fall 27 per cent versus 2019.
But it forecasts electric vehicle sales will increase 100 per cent year on year to more than 77,000 units, despite the havoc wreaked by coronavirus.
Changes to company car tax allowances will likely drive that growth, as employees can effectively get a free car. New Benefit in Kind rates mean company car drivers pay 0 per cent this tax year, only 1 per cent for 2021-22 and 2 per cent for 2022-23.
However, the wider industry is now under acute stress.
“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.
“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.”
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