* Now updated with the Top 43 All-brands and Top 150 models – see title *
Back in June when UK voters chose to “Brexit”, I along with the majority of automotive analysts predicted the start of a “period of uncertainty” marred with currency volatility and potential export tax implementation towards the EU. Since, the Brexit negotiations have taken a life of its own, with local manufacturers, among them Nissan and Toyota, lobbying hard to keep their access to the European Union intact and free of taxes – as this is the main reason behind their implantation in the UK. This has given the UK market some room to catch its breath with H2 sales up just 1.2% to 1.272.150, leading to a fifth year of growth in a row and a second consecutive all-time record year at 2.692.786 units, up 2.3% on last year’s record. This is only the fifth time above 2.5 million units in UK history after 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2015. The 2017 figure will depend on the capacity of the UK to maintain its current trading relations with the EU and notably avoid tariff barriers that would increase significantly the cost of vehicles sold in the country and have a negative impact on sales.
Looking into the detail of this new record, the striking observation is that fleet sales are solely responsible for it – not a healthy position to be in. They are up 3.8% to a record 1.380.750 units and 51.3% share vs. 50% a year ago, all the while private sales are down 0.2% to 1.206.250 and 44.8% share vs. 45.9% in 2015. Business sales remain discreet at -1.2% to 105.786 and 3.9% share. Sales of petrol-powered vehicles are up 2.7% to 1.318.707 (49% share) while diesel is up just 0.6% to 1.285.160 and 47.7% and alternatively fuelled vehicles shoot up 22% to 88.919. Among them, plug-in hybrids are up 42%, petrol electric hybrids up 25% and pure electric vehicles are up 3%.
The brands ranking sees a fragmentation of its top-end with the 3 best-sellers all losing volume and market share: Ford contines to dominate despite sales down 5% to 11.8% share ahead of Vauxhall at 9.3% and Volkswagen at 7.7% – both down 7%. Like in 2015, Volkswagen managed to outsell Vauxhall to rank #2 overall in April, but this year it also got shockingly overtaken by its premium stablemate Audi both in August and October. BMW remains the #1 luxury brand in the country, improving 9% to 6.8% share ahead of Audi at 6.6% (+6%) while Mercedes is catching up at +17% to 6.3%. Outside the Top 10, Kia (+14%), Renault (+13%), Land Rover (+19%), Honda (+11%), Suzuki (+11%), Jaguar (+45%) and DS (+85%) all manage double-digit gains, while among smaller brands Bentley (+41%), Abarth (+45%) and Infiniti (+142%) impress.
Over in the models aisle, the entire Top 4 best-sellers all lose volume, with the podium dropping by double-digits. The Ford Fiesta – whose new generation lands in dealerships in early 2017 – still manages an 8th consecutive annual victory (11 years at #1 in total) with deliveries down 10%, ahead of the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Focus, both down 16%. The VW Golf (-5%) has never been so close to an annual UK podium ranking: it ends the year just 1.053 units below the Focus.
The Nissan Qashqai improves on a record 2015 to 62.682 sales – the highest annual volume delivered by a Japanese vehicle in the UK – and even hit a record 2nd place in January. Boosted by the new generation, the Vauxhall Astra is up 15% to #6 and ranked #2 over the last quarter. There are two Top 10 firsts in 2016: the Mercedes C-Class posts its second annual Top 10 ranking at #9 (+6%, last time in 2012) and the Kia Sportage breaks into the monthly Top 10 for the first time in February (#9), reiterating this feat in April (#9), August (#8) and October (#10) and ending the year at #13 (+74%). This way, the Sportage becomes the third Korean nameplate to break into the monthly UK Top 10 along with the Kia Picanto, #9 in February 2010, and the Hyundai i10, inside the Top 10 six times between July 2009 and December 2011, peaking at #3 in August 2009.
Notice also the Mercedes A-Class surging 39% to land in 12th place, the Audi A4 up 26% to #23, the Hyundai Tucson up 151% to #25, the BMW 2 Series up 27% to #34, the Renault Kadjar up 535% to #36 for its first full year of sales and the Ford Galaxy/S-Max up 159% to #43. Among British marques, below the Mini up 3% to #8, the Range Rover Evoque is far from having exhausted its potential with sales up 31% to stop a mere thousand units short off a stunning Top 20 finish at #21. The Land Rover Discovery Sport gains a further 44% to break into the Top 30 at #29, the Jaguar XE is up 41% to #64 while the Land Rover Discovery (+10%) and Mini Clubman (+113%) also display positive results. The Jaguar F-Pace makes a thunderous entrance in the UK charts in 2016, missing out on a Top 100 ranking for 238 sales at #102. It is the only all-new nameplate to manage its way into the Top 150 along with the Mercedes SLC (#140).
Previous post: UK December 2016: Astra and C-Class shine in market down 1%
Previous year: UK Full Year 2015: Market up 6% to record 2.633.503 units
Full Year 2016 Top 43 All-brands and Top 150 models vs. Full 2015 data below.