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No sign of improvement for the UK market, plagued by uncertainties on both Brexit negotiations and diesel cars penalties. Sales register an 8th consecutive year-on-year drop in November and second consecutive double-digit decline at -11.2% to 163.541, the lowest score for the month since 2013. Year-to-date, UK registrations are now down 5% to 2.388.144, returning to the 2014 level (2.310.237). All channels decline but private sales resist better: down 5.1% to 74.065, improving their share to 45.3% vs. 42.4% a year ago whereas fleet sales are down 14.4% to 85.007 or 52% share vs. 53.9% in November 2016 and business sales implode 33.6% to 4.469. Year-to-date data shows a different picture: fleet sales beat the market at -3.9% to 1.228.967 units or 51.5% share vs. 50.8% over the same period in 2016, while private sales are down 6.3% to 1.066.951 or 44.7% share vs. 45.3% and business sales are down 5.4% to 92.226. Like it was the case for the previous few months, diesel sales single-handedly pull the market down with an abysmal 30.6% year-on-year drop in November to 61.730 units or 37.7% share vs. 48.3% in November 2016, while petrol sales are up 5% to 92.944 or 56.8% share vs. 48.1%. Alternatively fuelled vehicles continue to shoot up at +33.1% to 8.867 or 5.4% share vs. 3.6% a year ago. Year-to-date, diesel sales are down 16.1% to 1.008.267 or 42.2% share vs. 47.8%, petrol sales are up 3.1% to 1.268.641 or 53.1% share vs. 48.9% and AFV sales up 34.6% to 111.236 or 4.7% share vs. 3.3%.
Market leader Ford underperforms at -18% to 11.1% share, with Volkswagen resisting well at -3% to 8.6% ahead of BMW (-17%), Audi (-6%) and Mercedes once again going against the grain with a 6% year-on-year improvement to 7.4% share. Vauxhall (-35%) is stuck at a lowest-ever 6th place for the second month running – whereas it ranked on the podium every single month in 2015 and 2016 – but manages to remain #3 year-to-date. Below Nissan crumbling down 24%, Hyundai resists at -1%. Land Rover (+18%) and Mini (+20%) post brilliant scores, the only two mass market brands with double-digit year-on-year gains. The others are: MG (+79%), Maserati (+32%), Abarth (+26%), Bentley (+23%) and Alfa Romeo (+21%). At the other end of the scale, Lotus (-61%), Jeep (-53%), Fiat (-43%), Smart (-43%), DS (-39%), Renault (-38%) and Volvo (-25%) are struggling.
In the models ranking, the Ford Fiesta manages two consecutive months in pole position for the first time since last May and despite a harsh 23% year-on-year drop whereas the VW Golf continues to deliver stellar performances with sales up 25% in 2nd place, the nameplate’s seventh consecutive month inside the UK Top 2 (a record). The Golf is comfortably headed towards becoming the first foreign nameplate since records began to rank on the UK annual podium. The performer of the month is the Mini up 15% to achieve its highest ever ranking for the new generation launched 18 years ago, also hit in December 2015. It is likely that the last time the Mini ranked higher than #3 in the UK was back in 1980, a year it ended at #4 before crumbling 53% to #10 in 1981, hit by cannibalisation from the Austin Metro. The last time a Mini was on the annual UK podium was in 1979 (#3). The Ford Focus (-2%) and Nissan Qashqai (-16%) are both knocked down one spot on October to #4 and #5 respectively. Replacing the BMW 4 Series which snapped its first ever Top 10 ranking last month, the BMW 1 Series soars to #6, its first UK Top 10 since last April and highest ranking since September 2013. It’s a good month for premium compact cars, with the Mercedes A-Class posting a third consecutive Top 10 finish at #7.
Lastly on a more negative note, there are no Vauxhalls in the Top 10 models for the second month running with the Corsa (-44%) and Astra (-50%) both imploding. This occurrence, unthinkable just a few months ago, may have to do with the buyout of the brand by PSA Peugeot-Citroen. At least one Vauxhall has featured in the annual UK Top 10 without interruption since records began in 1965. It will happen again in 2017, with the Corsa at #5 YTD and the Astra at #6, paradoxically up one spot this month due to the VW Polo’s generation transition. But the lowest the best-selling Vauxhall ranked annually was #9 in 1979 (Vauxhall Cavalier – pictured above), so it’s possible (but not certain) that that year no Vauxhall managed to rank inside the Top 10 for at least one month. It’s also very possible that Vauxhall’s absence from the Top 10 in both October and November 2017 are the first time this ever happens. Only seven years ago in February 2011, Vauxhall placed no less than five nameplates in the monthly UK Top 10: Corsa #2, Astra #5, Insignia #6, Zafira #7 and Meriva #10…
Previous month: UK October 2017: First ever Top 10 for the BMW 4 Series
Full November 2017 Top 40 brands and Top 10 models below.