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UK January 2021: Lockdown sends market down -39.5% to lowest since 1970, Kia Sportage up to #2

The Kia Sportage is up to a record 2nd place in January. Picture

A second national lockdown means the UK new car market freefalls -39.5% year-on-year in January to just 90.249 units, a loss of almost 60.000 sales. This is the weakest January volume since 1970 (84.807). Private sales drop -38.5% to 37.946 units and 42% share vs. 41.3% a year ago, fleets sink -39.7% to 51.002 and 56.5% share vs. 56.7% and business sales implode -56% to 1.301 and 1.4% vs. 2%. Looking at fuel type, petrol sales are off -50.6% to 44.903 and 49.8% share vs. 60.9% in January 2021 and diesel sales are down -62.1% to 11.083 and 12.3% share vs. 19.6%. The good news is to be found in the green car segment. MHEV (Mild Hybrid) sales are up 34.2% to 15.053 and 16.7% share vs. 7.5% a year ago, BEV is up 54.4% to 6.260 and 6.9% share vs. 2.7%, PHEV up 28% to 6.124 and 6.8% vs. 3.2% but HEV drops -23.9% to 6.826 and 7.6% share vs. 6%.

Source: SMMT

In the brands ranking, Ford (-46.8%) and Volkswagen (-42.6%) both fall faster than the market but retain the #1 and #2 spots they held over the Full Year 2020. In fact the Top 5 is identical to FY2020 with BMW (-30.5%) and Audi (-32.6%) resisting better than the market and Mercedes (-40.7%) not quite able to match the market evolution. The hero of the month is Kia (-0.2%) with stable sales and shooting up 10 spots on December to #6 with 6.9% share which are believed to be new records for the brand. Notably, Kia outsells Vauxhall (-39.4%) in the UK for only the 2nd time ever after March 2020. Land Rover (-35.4%) climbs into the Top 10 at #10, with Porsche (+43.8%) and Tesla (+130.8%) signing the only year-on-year gains in market and Hyundai (-22.6%), Volvo (-22.6%) and MG (-25.6%) holding up relatively well. Newcomers Polestar (#30) and Cupra (#31) both gain ground on December at +3 and +6 spots respectively.

The Volvo XC40 breaks into the UK Top 5 for the first time.

Model-wise, the Vauxhall Corsa (-29.6%) signs a 5th win in the past 8 months, selling 484 units more than its archenemy the Ford Fiesta (-57.4%) down to #4. The Kia Sportage (+21.5%) lifts to a record 2nd place, smashing its previous best ranking of #6 hit in July and October 2017. The Nissan Qashqai (-38.5%) is up two spots on December to #3 while the Volvo XC40 breaks into the UK Top 5 for the very first time at #5, eclipsing its previous best of #6 hit in May and October 2020, also signing a fifth consecutive monthly Top 10 finish. The Ford Puma edges up one rank on last month to #8, just as the Kia Niro makes it two Kias in the UK Top 10 for the first time, ending the month at #9, also a new record beating its previous best of #10 hit last August.

Previous post: UK Full Year 2020: Market hit -29.4% by two lockdowns, Ford Fiesta teased by Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Puma and Volvo XC40 in Top 10

One year ago: UK January 2020: Market down -7.3% to weakest in 7 years

Full January 2021 Top 43 brands and Top 10 models below.

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