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The UK car industry’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic could take “at least six months”, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The latest SMMT survey found that 60% of large firms expected the industry to take at least another six months to recover from the COVID crisis, despite positive signs in car production and the demand in the used car market.

There are already plenty of signs that the industry is on the path to recovery, with UK car production rising by 46.6% in March to see 115,498 cars roll off production lines, the first increase for 18 months.

Similarly, used car sales rose by 30 per cent following the re-opening of showrooms on 12th April, with a clear sign that the demand is there. Meanwhile, the SMMT’s latest results recorded 141,583 new car registrations in April, only 12% down from 2019, before the pandemic.

“The warning for the SMMT is a good reminder for us that, while it’s very encouraging to see the used and new car market recover, there is still some work to be done by everyone in the automotive industry.

Vince Powell, Managing Director of AX Innovation

“Dealers will justifiably be delighted that we’re seeing such an uplift just weeks into showrooms reopening, and it’s clear that the ability to get onto the forecourt and behind the wheel on a test drive is a crucial part of this.

“Whether it takes six months to recover or less, the ability to provide test drives – particularly extended test drives – and make the most of demonstrator fleets will be essential for retailers in making up for lost time and speeding that recovery up even more by providing added security, genuine sales insights and improving the customer journey.”