Automakers including Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and PSA Group are urging the British government to introduce incentives such as a scrapping program to increase new-car sales.

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Registrations in the UK, Europe’s second-largest market in Europe after Germany, collapsed 97 per cent in April to just 4,321 vehicles after showrooms were shut during the government’s lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The head of Ford’s UK business, Andy Barratt, said a government-supported program was key to reviving sales. “It could be a scrappage scheme or something similar, but some sort of stimulus is really needed to get the car business moving,” Barratt told the ITV News channel on Monday.

Jaguar Land Rover UK head Rawdon Glover told the UK’s Car Dealer Magazine that a stimulus program should be introduced in July to incentivize customers to go out and buy a new car when the lockdown lifts.

PSA Group’s UK managing director, Alison Jones, stated that incentives need to be introduced sooner that a July date that has been touted. “July 1 was a suggestion and is linked to the September car market, but what I would say is that any decision needs to be made sooner rather than later,” Jones told Car Dealer on Monday.

Any delay risked car buyers holding off purchases in hope of a discount later, Jones said.

Unlike countries such as Germany where dealerships have been allowed to fully reopen, UK buyers cannot physically shop for cars, although the government has allowed retailers to offer a ‘click-and-collect’ service at showrooms as it gradually eases COVID-19 restrictions.

In the UK, automakers including Kia, Hyundai, Dacia, Toyota, Renault and Mazda are already offering a version of a scrapping program with discounts available on trade-ins of older vehicles.

The London transport organization TfL currently uses public money to finance a scrapping scheme to persuade drivers of older vans to swap them for new low-emissions vehicles.

The British government introduced a scrapping program in 2009 to boost the industry after the financial crash of 2008. The measure helped to fund the sale of 400,000 new cars in the 10 months it ran.

The French government on Monday indicated that it will launch a sales stimulus aimed at increasing demand for low-emission cars.

Automakers in Germany asked for a scrapping program in April, pitching it as a way to reduce CO2 emissions. The German government has postponed a decision until June.