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UK July 2018: Volkswagen #1 for the 2nd month in a row – and in history

A first ever podium ranking for the Polo keeps Volkswagen as the #1 brand in the UK.

* See the Top 43 brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *

New car sales in the UK return to positive for the third time in the past four months, potentially signally a stabilising of the market, with July deliveries up 1.2% to 163.898, yet this is still the second lowest July score in the past five years. The year-to-date volume remains frankly in negative at -5.5% to 1.477.892. It’s fleet sales that pull the market up this month at +2.6% to 91.542 units and 55.9% share vs. 55.1% a year ago, while private sales edge up 0.1% or less than 100 units to 67.772 and just 41.4% share vs. 41.8% a year ago and business ales drop 10.2% to 4.584 and 2.8% share. Year-to-date, this time private sales take the leadership with a measured -4.4% drop to 654.976 deliveries and 44.3% share improving on 43.8% over the same period a year ago, fleet sales skid -6% to 769.152 and 52% share vs. 52.3% and business sales dive 11.4% to 53.764 and 3.6% share. Diesel sales continue to implode at -24.4% in July to 52.303 and 31.9% share vs. 42.7% in July 2017, offset by petrol sales up 20.1% to 100.861 and 61.5% share vs. 51.8% and Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFV) up a rather timid 21% to 10.734 and 6.5% share, one percentage point above their level of a year ago. The year-to-date picture is even worse for diesel deliveries down 29.6% to 480.915 and 32.5% share vs. 43.7% in 2017, with petrol sales up 12.3% to 913.396 and 61.8% share vs. 52% and AFV sales up 23.8% to 83.581 and 5.7% share vs. 4.3%.

July sales 2002-2017. Source SMMT

It turns out last month’s historic victory by Volkswagen wasn’t a freak event. The German carmaker (+19%) manages to remain the best-selling carmaker in the UK for the second consecutive month, as well as the second time in UK history. An incredible feat by VW that benefits from strong sales of its new Polo and Tiguan (see further down). Ford (-5%) is stuck in 2nd place again, this time 733 sales below VW (the gap was 890 in June), but remains by far in the YTD lead with over 30.000 sales above VW. Audi (+4%) rallies back up three spots on last month to land on the third step of the podium for the third time in the past 12 months after October 2017 and April 2018. Vauxhall (+2%) may have bottomed out, posting a 2nd year-on-year gain in the past 4 months. If Mercedes (-2%) stays at #5, BMW (+10%) is down four ranks on June despite posting a double-digit gain. Nissan (-35%) continues to freefall in the tail end of the Top 10 whereas just outside, Seat (+36%) hits #11 which is a new UK ranking record, with a previous best at #12 last February. Further down, MG (+167%), Bentley (+103%), Suzuki (+62%), Mitsubishi (+46%) and Aston Martin (+44%) are the most dynamic while we welcome Alpine at #42 with 11 sales.

The VW Tiguan scores its 2nd consecutive – and ever – Top 10 ranking in the UK.

The models ranking logically reflects Volkswagen’s new domination. Below the Ford Fiesta (+85%) finally boosted by the new generation, the VW Golf (+7%) is joined by the Polo (+19%) onto the podium. According to BSCB archives this is the first time in UK history that the VW Polo ranks on the podium (previous best #4 in January 2010), and therefore it’s also the very first time that Volkswagen places two nameplates on the UK podium. The Tiguan (#9) also shines by scoring its 2nd ever Top 10 ranking after last month. Bad news for Ford: hit by a badly managed generation changeover (same as the Fiesta last year), the Ford Focus disappears from the UK monthly Top 10 for the first time since the nameplate launched in 1998. In fact the only times the Focus dropped outside the Top 5 in the past 20 years were in October 2016 and last month, in June 2018 when it ranked #6. Deliveries of the fourth generation will start in August so the Focus should reintegrate the Top 10 then. The Corsa (+30%) is the only Vauxhall left in the Top 10, now that the Astra has slipped out even in the YTD order, and this for the first time since the nameplate’s first year in market in 1981. The Nissan Qashqai (-25%) is back to #3 YTD thanks to the Focus weakness, while at #6 the Audi A3 (+10%) posts its highest ranking since October 2016 (#5).

Previous post: UK First Half 2018: VW and Seat strong, Mini at highest since 1980

Previous month: UK June 2018: Historical win for Volkswagen, BMW up to record #2 spot

One year ago: UK July 2017: Ford Focus and VW Golf on top, market down 9.3%

Full July 2018 Top 43 brands and Top 10 models below.

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