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UK July 2020: Pent-up demand, enticing offers lift market up 11.3%, Vauxhall Corsa leads again

The Vauxhall Corsa signs a 4th UK win in the past 11 months.

Thanks to pent-up demand accumulated over lockdown months and generous offers by most manufacturers, UK new car sales engineer a strong rally back in July with a sturdy 11.3% year-on-year gain to 174.887 units. Indeed according to SMMT, 8 of the 10 major manufacturers provided attractive finance offers and flexible payment terms in a bid to head off consumer uncertainty, just as showrooms across the country enjoyed their first full month of trading since February: they were allowed to re-open in England on 1 June, in Wales on 22 June, and in Scotland on 29 June. Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said “the market remains fragile in the face of possible future spikes and localised lockdown as well as probably job losses across the economy”, The year-to-date tally remains battered at -41.9% to 828.389 units but this piece of good news for the month is enough for us (and SMMT) to adjust our UK 2020 Forecast up by 100k units to 1.62m sales (-30%).

July UK sales 2004-2020. Source: SMMT 

This month it’s private sales that pull the entire market up with a stunning 20.4% year-on-year gain to 79.929 units and 45.7% share vs. 42.2% in July 2019, fleet sales are also solid at +5.2% to 91.857 and 52.5% share vs. 55.5% a year ago but business volumes drop -11.8% to 3.101. Year-to-date, here again private volumes fare best at -37.8% to 394.521 and 47.6% share vs. 44.5% over the same period a year ago, fleet sales are off -45% to 417.371 and 50.4% vs. 53.2% and business sales sink -50.3% to 16.497. Deliveries of petrol vehicles edge up 0.3% to 101.392 but see their share freefall from 64.3% a year ago to 58% in July. Diesel confirms it is out of fashion at -25.9% to 28.844 and 16.5% share vs. 24.7%. In contrast, MHEV (Mild Hybrid) is up 199.2% to 16.263 and 9.3% share vs. 3.4% a year ago, HEV is up 64.9% to 12.779 and 7.3% vs. 4.9%, BEV up 259.4% to 8.162 and 4.7% share vs. 1.4% and PHEV up 320.3% to 7.447 and 4.3% vs. 1.1%. Year-to-date, petrol is down -46.5% to 494.000 and 59.6% vs. 64.7%, diesel off -60.9% to 147.801 and 17.8% vs. 26.5%, MHEV up 86.3% to 68.407 and 8.3% vs. 2.6%, HEV down -8.2% to 52.107 and 6.3% vs. 4%, BEV up 174.6% to 39.119 and 4.7% vs. 1% and PHEV up 59.4% to 26.955 and 3.3% vs. 1.2%.

Audi ranks #3 brand in the UK for the 2nd time in the past 3 months.

In the brands ranking, Ford (+10.4%) almost matches the market to easily keep the lead at a strong 10.8% share to be compared to 9.5% so far this year. Volkswagen (+2.9%), although up, underperforms to 8.9% share at #2 whereas Audi (+16.4%) and BMW (+24.4%) impress just below. This is Audi’s second podium finish in the past 3 months. Renault (+201.7%) is up 3-fold on July 2019 and soars 4 spots on June to land at #9, scoring by far the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 10 just as Kia (+28%) and Toyota (+21.7%) also stun but Mercedes (-14.9%) and Vauxhall (-6%) struggle. Porsche (+195.4%), Ssangyong (+109.8%), MG (+77.5%), Dacia (+77%), Mini (+48.9%), Land Rover (+38%), Fiat (+32.1%) and Jeep (+23.1%) secure the most impressive gains further down whereas Tesla crumbles to a mere 250 sales and 0.1% share vs. 1.2% year-to-date and Alpine (-65.5%), Smart (-56.7%), Suzuki (-46.2%), Subaru (-41.7%), Citroen (-24.9%) and Alfa Romeo (-21.3%) freefall. We welcome Polestar at #40 with its first 8 UK sales.

Renault UK sales are up 3-fold in July.

Model-wise, the Vauxhall Corsa (+77.2%) is spectacularly bolstered by its new generation and repeats at #1, signing a 4th victory in the past 11 months and overtaking the VW Golf to advance to #3 year-to-date. Granted, the Ford Fiesta (-4%) lurks only 34 units below and holds onto the YTD top spot while the Ford Focus (+28.9%) also scores a very impressive year-on-year gain in third place. The sales effect of the 8th generation are yet to come for the VW Golf (-8.2%) albeit up two spots on June to #4 just as the Mercedes A-Class (+5.9%) rounds out the Top 5. The VW Polo (+14.2%) is back inside the Top 10 at #7, the Mini (+47.8%) scores the 2nd highest year-on-year gain among the ten best-sellers at #8, the VW Tiguan (+9.8%) is taking root in the Top 10 at #9 and the new gen Ford Kuga (-8%) returns to the Top 10 for the 2nd time in the past 3 months.

Previous post (1): UK January-May 2020: Now with Top 160 models

Previous post (2): UK First Half 2020: EVs (+158.6%), Tesla, MG and Toyota highlight market battered to weakest in 49 years

Previous month: UK June 2020: Toyota and Yaris both sign first ever podium in shy market restart (-34.9%)

One year ago: UK July 2019: Citroen (+29.3%), Toyota (+22.6%) stun in 5th straight market decline (-4.1%)

Full July 2020 Top 40 brands and Top 10 models below.

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