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UK Full Year 2019: Ford, Volkswagen, Mercedes dominate weakest market in 6 years

The Ford Focus returns to the UK podium in 2019.

Discover 55 years of UK Historical Data here.

09/01/20 update: Now with the Top 23 All LCV brands and Top 10 LCV models.

The UK market endures a third straight year of decline in 2019 at -2.4% to 2.311.140 units, the weakest annual result since 2013. Political and economic uncertainty, anti-diesel rhetoric and confusing messages on clean air zones have taken their toll on buyer confidence. Helped by a last-minute bump in December in order to fit CO2 targets (+7.3%), fleet sales are the only island of growth in the UK in 2019 at +0.8% to 1.232.447 units and 53.3% share vs. 51.7% in 2018. In contrast, private sales (-3.2%) drop faster than the market to 1.018.258 and 44.1% share vs. 44.5% a year ago. Business sales implode at -34.4% to 60.435. Petrol sales edge up 2.2% to 1.498.650 and 64.8% vs. 61.9% a year ago but they can’t offset the freefalling of diesel sales at -21.8% to 583.488 and 25.2% share vs. 31.5%, December marking the 33rd straight month of diesel decline. Combined alternatively fuelled vehicle sales (AFV) thankfully swim upstream in 2019 at +20.6% to 170.434 and a record 7.4% share vs. 6% a year ago. Among them, Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) gain 17.1% to 97.850, Battery electric vehicle (BEV) surge +144% to 37.850 units, overtaking Plug-in hybrids for the first time, down -17.8% to 34.734, the latter segment’s fall being further evidence of the consequences of prematurely removing upfront purchase incentives before the market is ready according to SMMT.

UK annual sales 2003-2019

Ford (-7.1%) falls much faster than the market but easily remains the best-selling brand in the country ahead of Volkswagen (-1.2%) resisting much better to reach 8.7% share, its highest since 2014. Ford managed to wrangle the monthly pole position 11 times this year vs. just once for Volkswagen (in August) whereas in 2018 Volkswagen had managed this feat 4 times. Mercedes (-0.2%) climbs onto the annual UK podium for the first time in history, dislodging Vauxhall (-9.9%) dropping to #5 below BMW (-1.3%) at #4. Mercedes equalled its all-time record share in September at 8.9%, also hit in September 2018, while BMW lifted to 9.5% in December, second only to the 9.8% it hit in June 2019. Below Audi (-3.3%), Toyota (+3.2%) and Kia (+1.6%) both overtake local producer Nissan (-10%) in dire straits in the midst of Brexit uncertainty affecting its largest industrial presence in Europe. Further down, MG (+44.5%), Dacia (+28.1%), Lexus (+26.7%), Porsche (+22.7%), Alpine (+20.4%) and Volvo (+11.7%) are among the most dynamic while Tesla breaks into the annual UK Top 30 with an estimated 10.559 units sold in 2019. In the naughty corner: Infiniti (-61.1%), Smart (-47.3%), Abarth (-38.8%), Ssangyong (-29.9%), Maserati (-28.1%), Mitsubishi (-23.4%), Honda (-16.5%) and DS (-15.3%).

Mercedes celebrates its first podium finish, the A-Class its first Top 5.

The Ford Fiesta (-18.8%) is turning out to be too expensive for the UK public in its new generation, enduring a ghastly fall, the largest in the Top 10, but holding onto the pole position for the 11th consecutive years and 14th time in total for the nameplate. The VW Golf (-9%) is also in difficulty but remains at a record 2nd place for the third straight year and snapped its first monthly win in two years in December. The Ford Focus (+12.1%) is helped by the new generation back up onto the podium for the first time since 2017 and the Vauxhall Corsa (+2.5%) drops one spot to #4 but managed to top the monthly ranking twice (September and November), something it had not achieved in any year this decade. The best performer in the Top 10 is the Mercedes A-Class (+23.4%) soaring 3 spots on 2019 to break into the annual Top 5 for the first time, also smashing its volume record to almost 54.000 units – the highest ever annual volume delivered by any Mercedes nameplate, eclipsing the previous record of 45.912 by the C-Class in 2017. The Ford Kuga (+3.2%) also breaks  its ranking and volume bests at #7 and just under 42.000 units, peaking at a record #2 in November. No less than 6 nameplates made their very first appearance in the UK monthly Top 10 in 2019: the Tesla Model 3 landing directly at #3 in August and returning at #9 in December, the Ford Ecosport at #9 in February, the Hyundai Tucson at #10 in April, the VW T-Roc at #7 in August, the Range Rover Evoque at #10 in October and the Vauxhall Grandland X at #10 in December.

The Mercedes Sprinter climbs onto the UK LCV podium in 2019.

Sales of new Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV) go against the Passenger Cars market with a 2.4% uptick to 365.778 units. Ford (-6.8%) remains ultra-dominant but sees its sharecrop by over 3 percentage points from 35.3% in 2018 to 32.1% this year. Volkswagen (+0.7%) only edges up whereas immediate followers Mercedes (+14.7%) and Vauxhall (+27.3%) gallop ahead. Renault (+17%), Mitsubishi (+7.3%) and Citroen (+6.8%) also make significant inroads in the remainder of the Top 10 but all hold onto their 2018 ranking. Note Great Wall has now disappeared from the charts. Model-wise, the Ford Transit Custom (-4.2%) and Transit (-19.7%) remain on top but both fall, whereas the Mercedes Sprinter (+21.5%) climbs onto the podium, dislodging the VW Transporter (-9.9%). The Ford Ranger (+0.1%) is almost immobile and remains the best-selling pickup in the country and the only one to rank inside the Top 10 LCVs. We welcome the Vauxhall Combo (+355.1%) in the 2019 Top 10. Finally notice LEVC (+78.2%) revitalising the taxi market with 88.9% share at 2.130 sales vs. 267 (+15.6%) for Mercedes.

More detailed UK models data will be added to this article when made available to us.

Previous month: UK November 2019: Vauxhall Corsa snaps 2nd win in past 3 months, Ford Kuga #2 in weakest November in 7 years

Previous year: UK 2018: Brexit uncertainty sinks market to lowest in 5 years, Volkswagen scores first monthly wins, Ford Fiesta marks 10 years in a row at #1

Two years ago: UK 2017: VW Golf and Nissan Qashqai break records in market down 5.7%

Full Year 2019 Top 42 brands, Top 10 models, Top 23 LCV brands and Top 10 LCV models vs. Full Year 2018 figures below.

Full December 2019 Top 42 brands and Top 10 models below.

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