200514 London
Buying a new car was not a priority for consumers in the UK. May showed sales of 20,000 units, down by 90 per cent on a year ago figures. Image Credit: AFP

London: Automakers in the UK sold just over 20,000 cars in May with dealerships shuttered for a second month.

New-car registrations plunged almost 90 per cent from a year earlier, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. 

Britain's car industry is sputtering back to life from a virtual standstill brought about by the coronavirus. Dealerships closed since mid-March have started to reopen as of June 1 with an easing of a national lockdown.

Factories also are re-starting production with social-distancing measures in place to stunt the spread of the virus,  including at Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co.

Some gains

Still, deliveries in May were an improvement from April when automakers sold just 4,231 cars, the lowest since shortly after the end of the Second World War. Elsewhere in Europe, the car industry showed tentative signs of a recovery with sales in France falling 50 per cent, an improvement over April's 89 per cent plunge, while Spain also showed a slight recovery.