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UK February 2021: Sales plunge -35.5% to weakest February since 1959, Volvo, Kia, MG resist

The Kia Niro is up to a record 6th place in February.

As the country remains in lockdown and showrooms are closed, the UK new car market sinks -35.5% year-on-year to 51.312 units. This is the weakest February result since 1959 (41.471) and it leads to a year-to-date tally off -38.1% to 141.561 vs. 228.873 over the same period in 2020. February is traditionally a slow month ahead of the bumper plate change March, usually the strongest month of the year, but with restrictions in place until at least 12 April, March volumes will suffer and with them the entire year. Private sales drop -37.3% to 21.364 and 41.6% share vs. 42.8% a year ago, fleet sales fare a little better at -33.5% to 29.311 and 57.1% vs. 55.4% while business sales implode -56.6% to just 637. Year-to-date, private sales are off -38% to 59.319 and 41.9% share vs. 41.8% over the same period in 2020, fleet sales are down -37.6% to 80.316 and 56.7% share vs. 56.2% and business sales sink -56.5% to 1.926.

Source: SMMT

Looking at fuel types, petrol sales are down -44.5% to 26.752 and 52.1% share vs. 60.6% a year ago, diesel registrations freefall -61% to 6.761 and 13.2% share vs. 21.8% and HEVs are down -22.8% to 3.207 and 6.3% share vs. 5.2%. In contrast, MHEV sales (Mild Hybrid) are up 49.7% to 7.945 and 15.5% share vs. 6.7% a year ago, BEV is up 40.2% to 3.516 and 6.9% share vs. 3.2% and PHEV up 52.1% to 3.131 and 6.1% share vs. 2.6%. Year-to-date, petrol is down -48.5% to 71.655 and 50.6% share vs. 60.8% over the same period in 2020, diesel down -61.7% to 17.844 and 12.6% vs. 20.4% and HEV off -23.6% to 10.033. All other electrified segments are up: MHEV is up 39.2% to 22.998 and 16.2% share vs. 7.2% last year, BEV is up 49% to 9.776 and 6.9% share vs. 2.9% and PHEV up 35.2% to 9.255 and 6.5% share vs. 3%.

In the brands ranking, unlike a year ago Ford (-39.4%) manages to retain the top spot thanks to an ever steeper fall by Volkswagen (-44.7%) just as BMW (-40.8%) completes an underperforming podium. Mercedes (-34.1%) only slightly betters the market in 4th place. The Top 5 is unchanged on last month and FY20 with Audi (-17.2%) posting the best hold at #5. Vauxhall (-34.5%) is back above Kia (-5.9%), the latter scoring the smallest decline in the Top 12 and ranking 6th year-to-date. Nissan (-18.4%) and Skoda (-29.7%) also outpace the market in the remainder of the Top 10. Just outside, Volvo (-0.8%) and Land Rover (-11.7%) resist very well as does MG (-5.9%) at #18. Newcomer Polestar is up four spots on January to rank at #26, its highest ranking so far in the UK. Subaru (-8.3%) posts the only remaining single-digit loss in the entire market, with no brand recording a year-on-year uptick this month.

Model-wise, the Ford Fiesta (-47.3%) reclaims the top spot for the first time since last August despite a ghastly fall, but given the weak February volumes this is not enough to get back to #1 YTD, this spot still occupied by the Vauxhall Corsa (-24.7%) down to #2 for the month. The Nissan Qashqai (+2.2%) benefits from generation end discounts and stays in third place above the Mercedes A-Class (-21.2%). The Volvo XC40 celebrates a 6th straight month inside the Top 10, repeating at a record 5th place, while the Kia Niro is up 3 spots on January to a new all-time high at #6. The VW T-Roc scores its second ever Top 10 finish, equalling its highest ever ranking at #7, also hit in August 2019. Below, the VW Tiguan and Ford Kuga both secure their first Top 10 finish since last August and the VW Golf (-73.3%) slips out of the Top 10 for the first time since last May.

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

One year ago: UK February 2020: VW and Golf lead, Vauxhall Grandland X up to record #6 in 11th market drop in past 13 months (-2.9%)

Full February 2021 Top 40 brands and Top 10 models below.

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