Home > UK > UK August 2012: Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series in olympic form

UK August 2012: Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series in olympic form

BMW 1 Series

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

New car sales in the UK are stable in August, up 0.1% year-on-year to 59,433 registrations which means the year-to-date total is up 3% on 2011 at 1,260,997 units. This month the entire Top 5 best-sellers are identical to the 2012 year-to-date ranking: the Ford Fiesta leads with 2,993 sales and 5%, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa at 4.1%, Ford Focus at 3.5%, VW Golf at 3.3% and Vauxhall Astra at 2.6%. The VW Polo is up 2 ranks to #6 at 2.5% and is now #7 year-to-date behind the Nissan Qashqai but above the BMW 3 Series, outside the Top 10 in August.

Audi A3

Two posh compacts are the heroes of the month in the UK: building on an already excellent score in July (#9), the Audi A3 is up to a superb 7th place with 1,243 sales and 2.1% share. It is the A3's best ranking in the UK since March 2009 (#7) and its second-best ever monthly ranking in the country below the #6 it reached in January 2009. The A3 celebrates its 11th month in the UK Top 10, all within the last 3.5 years.

Vauxhall Zafira

The BMW 1 Series also shines in August, up to #10 with 1,136 units and 1.9%. It is the first time in 14 months the 1 Series ranks within the UK monthly Top 10, and only the 5th time overall after October 2008 (#10), September 2009 (#10), September 2010 (#10) and June 2011 (#9). Finally, thanks to the new generation of the model, the Vauxhall Zafira is also back in the Top 10 for the first time since February 2011 (#7) at #9 with 1,164 sales and 2% share.

Previous month: UK July 2012: Mercedes C-Class hits highest ranking ever

One year ago: UK August 2011: BMW 3 Series in Top 5 for the first time in 10 months

Full August 2012 Top 10 Ranking Table below.

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Categories: UK
  1. Churchil
    September 9th, 2012 at 20:48 | #1

    Too much germans in the top 12.

  2. coolcat
    September 8th, 2012 at 21:06 | #2

    It used to be a once a year plate change up until 1999. All cars carried a single Letter,(for that 12 month period), then 2 or 3 numbers, then 3 more letters, the last 2 letters being the area the car was registered. So, for example, R412VAV – the ‘R’ meant the car was registered between 1st August 1997 and 31st July 1998, the 3 numbers were just random, and the AV was the area registration for Cambridgeshire.Dealerships were going crazy when it was once a year change as sales were generally made all around August with people wanting the latest reg on 1st of August. Sales in June and July would be very low. A 1998 R reg was always worth more than a 1997 R reg, and a car sold on 31st July 1997 on a P reg would be worth a lot less than a car sold a day later on an R reg! crazy, image-concious Britain!

  3. September 7th, 2012 at 23:15 | #3


    I know it is crazy, very difficult for the dealers, it is just that people want the latest registration, I agree the slump should not be that great but it always happens every year

  4. David
    September 7th, 2012 at 22:54 | #4


    I get the logic now, but I still can’t get over the extent of the rise/fall in sales from one month to another. Simply having a 6 month newer license plate shouldn’t have such a drastic effect. According to that logic, here in Australia, sales should slump in December because people would be waiting for the “new year” build the next year, but this doesn’t happen. How do the dealers cope? Wouldn’t they be majorly overstaffed one month, then understaffed the next? I can’t really comprehend it.

  5. September 7th, 2012 at 22:00 | #5

    The resale value will be affected if for example a car has a 12 plate but was built in 2011, it is a very confusing system and not very easy to explain, the Australian system is much more logical.

  6. David
    September 7th, 2012 at 21:44 | #6


    Doesn’t the year that the car was built determine it’s resale value? Number plates stay with the vehicle here in Australia too, but resale is based on the build year (and month). This is usually stamped on the firewall of the car in the engine bay.

  7. September 7th, 2012 at 21:36 | #7

    The number on the plate denotes when the car was registered for example 12 means that the car was registered between March 1st 2012 and August 31st 2012. The new plate is 62 which means that the car will be registered between September 1st 2012 and February 28th 2013. Most people wait for the new plate because the car will be worth more when they sell it. The BMW in the picture is a 11 plate which means it was registered between March 1st 2011 and August 31st 2011, I agree it is a crazy system, in most countries the number (licence) plate belongs to the owner not the car.

  8. David Z
    September 7th, 2012 at 19:44 | #8

    I’m confused. Why would number plates affect sales figures?

  9. September 7th, 2012 at 17:04 | #9

    Matt is right we have a stupid system of a number plate change in March (372835 cars were sold this year) and September (332476 sold in 2011), this totally distorts the market so you get silly numbers in February and August. Ireland has a number plate change in January so in December only a handful cars are bought.

  10. David Z
    September 7th, 2012 at 16:26 | #10

    Am I reading things right? 59,000 vehicles were sold in the UK in August?! In Australia, 93,000 vehicles were sold, and we are a country that has 1/3rd the UK population. Something doesn’t add up here.

    • matgasnier
      September 7th, 2012 at 16:32 | #11

      Hi David,
      Yes you are reading things right. August is traditionally a very slow month in Europe (Summer holidays) and particularly in the UK because there is a biannual number plate change occurring in September which is boosting sales massively that month and weakening August sales. Most buyers hold off buying a new car until September which traditionally accounts for 17% of annual sales in the UK vs. only 3% for August.
      Hope this clarifies.

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