The year-end new car sales figures for 2008 are expected to show a decline of at least 10% on the 2007 total.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the figures will offer little comfort to the already struggling motor industry, which has suffered from a fall in demand during the economic downturn.
Figures are also expected to show a significant fall in December new car sales, a trend seen since the summer last year and what would be the eighth successive monthly fall in sales.
The biggest monthly drop since 1980 was seen in November 2008 with new registration sales down 36.8% on those of November 2007.
It is expected sales will continue to decline in 2009 as the possibility of severe job cuts looms over many businesses.
In November 2008 the SMMT reported new car sales had passed the two million mark, but this is predicted to fall to 1.9 million or even lower in 2009.
The announcement comes after union leaders called on the Government to support the car industry with a rescue package to help secure jobs and maintain production.
Many car plants remain closed after the annual Christmas break due to the fall in demand.
© Press Association 2009