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New car registration fell to their lowest level since 1992 in 2020, according to figures from the SMMT.

The industry’s trade body announced that 1.63 million vehicles were newly registered last year, 29% less than in 2019, the biggest one-year fall since World War Two.

While restrictions in the first lockdown cost the industry approximately half a million units, the second lockdown towards the end of the year was far less damaging, with dealers able to sell cars remotely using ‘click and collect’ services.

Vince Powell, Managing Director of AX Innovation, AX, commented: “The numbers are staggering, but when you dig deeper it’s clear that the industry is much more prepared now than it was in March last year.

“Each lockdown has given dealerships the necessary experience to adapt their methods, with many seeking paperless solutions to maintain sales while ensure the safety of both their staff and customers.”

During the first lockdown, AX saw a surge of interest in its AX Manage software, which enables dealers to easily manage unaccompanied test drives and provide a contact-free system for all administration.

Despite the drop, there were still over 1.6 million newly registered vehicles, and several drivers of those 1.6 million could be at risk. Recent research by AX showed that more than one in 10 (11%) of all non-fault incidents occur in the first 90 days of taking ownership of a new car, with 39% happening in the first year.

Scott Hamilton-Cooper, Director of Sales and Operations at AX, added: “The window of opportunity in the early stages of vehicle ownership is very important – good service at this stage can make or break a relationship, especially following an accident which our data shows is more likely to happen soon after receiving a new car. With non-fault accidents more prevalent in the first 12 months of ownership, dealers can make sure their accident aftercare is seamless, boosting customer retention while adding valuable repair work.”