UK new-car registrations slumped to their lowest January level since 1970 as coronavirus lockdown measures shut showrooms, the UK auto industry's trade group, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said in a statement.
Sales fell 40 percent to 90,249 vehicles last month, according to the SMMT.
England, the most populous of the UK's four nations, and the Scottish mainland both became subject to stricter rules on Jan. 5, restricting people's movements and shutting many businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Car showrooms have been forced to close their doors to the public although many dealers are using online, delivery and click-and-collect services to continue to operate.
The sector is nervously looking ahead to March, one of the top two selling months of the year due to the change in the license plate series.
"Every day that showrooms can safely open will matter, especially with the critical month of March looming," SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said in the release.