British new car sales slumped by around 97 per cent in April to the lowest level of any month since February 1946 with factories and dealerships shut due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to preliminary data from an industry body.

Lockdown measures have been in place across Europe since mid-March to contain the pandemic, leading to the closure of many businesses and limiting people’s movements.

In February 1946, just a few months after the end of World War Two, just 4044 new cars were sold in Britain, which was still undergoing rationing and trying to rebuild after wartime destruction, under its first majority Labour government.

Last month, around 4000 cars were registered with most of the sales being fleet purchases, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It further downgraded its full-year forecast to 1.68 million registrations compared with last year’s total of 2.31 million cars.