LONDON -- Registrations in Britain fell by 44 percent in March as the coronavirus crisis hit the economy and forced many would-be buyers to stay at home, data from the SMMT industry body showed on Monday.
Sales were 254,684 units, making it the weakest March since 1999.
March accounted for nearly 20 percent of total registrations in 2019 as it is one of two annual occasions when a new license plate series is issued.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a shutdown of much of the economy last month as his government sought to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Almost all brands in the UK market saw sales drops last month.
Volkswagen, the top-selling brand, saw its registrations fall 40 percent, while former No. 1 Ford, now in second place, fell 53 percent. Third-placed BMW's volume declined by 42 percent. No. 4 Mercedes-Benz saw sales drop 49 percent. In fifth place, Audi fell 42 percent.
* Download UK March sales by brand here.
Other brands that saw big drops included Vauxhall (down 67 percent); Citroen (down 64 percent); Dacia (down 60 percent); Fiat (down 60 percent); Renault (down 59 percent); Peugeot (down 59 percent) and Hyundai, which fell 55 percent.
Sales of MG cars increased to 2,736 from 1,814 in March last year. Porsche's volume rose 13 percent to 1,838 vehicles.