An old RAF base has turned into a sprawling multi-million-pound car park after the coronavirus lockdown triggered a nosedive in sales.
Photos taken at the storage facility in Upper Heyford airbase close to Bicester, in Oxfordshire, show rows upon rows of brand new motors – including luxury Range Rovers and Jaguar sports cars – worth at least £35 million.
The vehicles usually sit there for a few weeks at most before being shipped off to showrooms. But their closures have forced customers to stay at home, leading to sales plummeting 97 per cent last month.
Figures show just 871 cars were sold to households last month compared to 68,000 in April last year. There was a similar slump in sales of fleet and business vehicles, down from 93,000 to 3,500. Most were purchased by key workers along with other frontline staff and services operating throughout the lockdown.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), who released the figures, is forecasting that around 1.68 million new cars will be registered during the whole of 2020, which would represent a 27% decline on last year.
Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? magazine, said the figures for April were ‘disastrous, but not unexpected’, as buying a new car was ‘as far from people’s minds as you can possibly get’.
He said: ‘It’s consistent with the figures coming through from the rest of Europe. Everything was frozen for a month.’
As Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to set out his ‘roadmap’ to reopening the economy, details emerged of the damage inflicted so far during lockdown.
One in 10 British businesses believe they are at a ‘high risk’ of going bust due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The report, by the CEBR think-tank and polling company Opinium, also shows a further 250,000 firms said they would not be able to survive if restrictions remain as they are for another month.
More than a million others said they would go bust in three months under current circumstances.