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UK May 2016: Brexit uncertainty cools market growth to +2.5%

BMW 3 Series UK May 2016BMW sales are up 26% and the 3 Series breaks into the Top 10 for the first time this year. 

* See the Top 10 best-selling models and Top 40 brands below.

According to figures released by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), May 2016 new car sales in the UK are up by a shy 2.5% to 203.585 cars, May’s strongest tally since 2002 but in fact corresponding to a market decline given the higher number of selling days compared to May 2015. Worse news: the entire market is pulled into positive thanks to fleet sales up 9% to 109.471 units and 53.8% share vs. 50.8% a year ago whereas private sales are down 3% to 89.094 and 43.8% vs. 46.2% in May 2015. Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “the low growth is evidence of the market cooling in the face of concerns around economic and political stability. Whether this is the result of some buyers holding off until the current uncertainty is resolved or a sign of a more stable market for new cars remains to be seen.”

May UK registrations 2000-2016 (Source: SMMT):


Ford tops the brands ranking but drops 2% to 11.7% share, Vauxhall tumbles down 21% to just 8% share vs. 9.2% year-to-date but reclaims the #2 spot off Volkswagen by the skin of its teeth: 16.300 sales vs. 16.505 (-7%) for the German carmaker. BMW is up 26% to bypass both Audi (+1%) and Mercedes (+21%) with 15.423 deliveries and 7.6% share. Peugeot (+19%), Kia (+13%), Land Rover (+27%), Renault (+15%) and Honda (+17%) also impress inside the Top 20. Big gainers among smaller brands include Jaguar (+64%), Smart (+42%) and Ssangyong (+64%).

Nissan Qashqai UK May 2016. Picture courtesy Nissan Qashqai is the only nameplate in the Top 8 to gain ground year-on-year.

Model-wise, the Ford Fiesta remains in the lead but drops 12% to 8.236 sales and the VW Golf manages to hold onto the #2 spot for the second consecutive month despite a 3% fall. In fact, reiterating a trend we saw last month, seven of the Top 8 best-sellers post year-on-year declines in May. The Vauxhall Astra surprisingly falls 21% despite the arrival of a new generation, the Ford Focus is down 23% and the Vauxhall Corsa down 25%. Only the Nissan Qashqai up 18% to #5 manages to improve. The Mini is back inside the Top 10 at #8, the Mercedes C-Class holds strong at #9 and the BMW 3 Series returns among UK’s 10 favourites for the first time in 2016 so far at #10.

Previous post: UK April 2016: Discover the Top 150 models (BSCB Exclusive)

Previous month: UK April 2016: Volkswagen above Vauxhall, Kia Sportage in Top 10 again

One year ago: UK May 2015: Ford Focus and Mini shine, positive run about to end?

Full May 2016 Top 10 models and Top 40 brands below.

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