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UK car sales fall 97% in worst month since 1946

The UK car market suffered its worst month in more than seven decades in April as coronavirus restrictions forced dealerships to close, pushing sales of new vehicles down by more than 97%.

Just over 4,320 cars were sold to private buyers, businesses and fleets last month in Britain, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, compared with roughly 161,000 in April 2019. The industry association described the sales decline as “the steepest of modern times.”

With showrooms closed and potential buyers sheltering at home, the industry group said that only 871 cars were sold to private buyers during the month. Many of those were battery electric vehicles such as Tesla’s Model 3 that customers had on order.

The monthly sales total is the weakest since February 1946, when 4,044 cars were sold in Britain as the country struggled to regain its footing in the immediate aftermath of World War II.