LONDON -- The British government will not offer a sales stimulus program to boost new-car sales hit by the coronavirus pandemic but the auto industry is hopeful the authorities will offer financial support if sales are impacted in the longer term.
However, the UK has no current plans to change the existing incentives or to introduce a scrapping program, a spokesman for Britain's business, energy and industrial strategy department told Auto Express magazine.
The SMMT auto association repeated its plea for help for the industry, which has announced thousands of job losses in the past months.
The coronavirus lockdown has had a severe impact on the industry, SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said in a statement to Automotive News Europe.
"A successful restart requires a dedicated package of support to help rebuild volumes, safeguard jobs and unlock investment, he said.
Hawes added that the SMMT "remained in constant communication with the government."
The government could be waiting to see what happens to sales in the medium term following the reopening of showrooms in June, Daksh Gupta, CEO of dealership group Marshall Motor, told Automotive News Europe.
"Sales in June have been very encouraging. We are seeing a lot of pent-up demand," he said.
Gupta added: "The million dollar question is whether that's sustained in the fourth quarter when furlough is removed."
The UK government has extended its furlough program, which aims to retain jobs by paying a percentage of salaries to companies to retain staff, to the end of October.
UK car sales fell 89 percent in May to 20,247 after dropping 97 percent in April. In the first five months sales fell 51 percent to 508,125, according to SMMT data.
An SMMT survey published earlier this month showed that one in six jobs in the UK automotive industry is at risk when the furlough program ends.
The association called for government support to boost the industry in November.
"A third of our workforce remains furloughed, and we want those staff coming back to work, not into redundancy," Hawes said.