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UK Full Year 2021: VW #1, overtakes Ford for the first time, Vauxhall Corsa and Tesla Model 3 top market up 1%

The Vauxhall Corsa is the best-selling vehicle in the UK in 2021.

Discover over 55 years worth of UK Historical Data here.

The UK new car market ends 2021 with a very shy 1% year-on-year gain to 1,647,181 registrations as the microchip crisis triggered vehicle stock shortages that cancelled any chance of recovery after a Covid-impacted 2020. This is the second worst annual volume since 1992 (1.594 million cars were sold then). Encouragingly, private sales gain 7.4% this year to 802,504 units and 48.7% share vs. 45.8% in 2020 while fleet sales drop -4.4% to 812,029 and 49.3% share vs. 52.1% a year ago. Business sales are down -4.7% to 32,648. Petrol sales drop -15.7% to 762,103 and 46.3% share vs. 55.4% last year just as diesel registrations sink -48.1% to 135,773 and 8.2% share vs. 16% a year ago. The good news of the year is to be found in the new energy vehicles aisle. Mild Hybrid (MHEV) sales are up 64.7% to 296,778 and 18% share vs. 11% last year, BEV surges 76.3% to 190,727 and 11.6% share vs. 6.6% in 2020, selling more than the 2016-2020 annual totals combined. PHEV soars 70.6% to 114,554 and 7% share vs. 4.1% and HEV is up 34% to 147,246 and 8.9% share vs. 6.7%.

Source: SMMT

We have a historical event in the brands ranking: for the first time since potentially 1968, Ford isn’t the most popular marque in the country. This title goes to Volkswagen (-0.3%) which, thanks to stable sales, becomes the first foreign brand to top the charts since stats exist for the UK (1965). But the affront doesn’t stop there for Ford: Audi (+9.4%) scores a solid gain to end the year at a record 2nd place and BMW (+1%) remains in third position. This means Ford (-23.9%) not only loses its crown but is also down to a paltry 4th place this year. Note it ranked #2 up until November but got penalised by an extremely weak December volume (-56.7%) when it placed #10. Toyota (+9.9%) secures a great uptick and climbs two spots on 2020 to round out the Top 5 above Mercedes (-11.7%) and Vauxhall (-4.2%). Kia (+28.7%) and Hyundai (+46.7%) manage the largest year-on-year gains in the Top 10 to rank #8 and #9 respectively. Further down, Tesla (+45.6%) shines and was even the #1 brand in December thanks to just the Model 3, with MG (+66.2%) also continuing to gear up and almost doubling its market share to 1.9%. Cupra is up to #29.

The Tesla Model 3 ends the year in 2nd place overall.

There is also a historical event in the models ranking: for the first time since stats started in 1965 a Vauxhall model is the best-seller in the UK: the Corsa (-11.5%) benefitting from a new generation but still skidding down. It is also the first time since 1971 and the BMC 1100/1300 that it is not a Ford at the top of the charts. In fact the best-selling Ford is down at #8: the Puma (+9.1%) while the leader for the past 12 consecutive years, the Ford Fiesta, is booted out of the Top 10 this year due to a dramatic impact of the microchip shortage on its sales (-96% in November). While it was still outside the YTD Top 10 in November, the Tesla Model 3 (+82.5%) takes advantage of a stellar December score to soar to 2nd place overall for the year vs. #17 in 2020. The Mini (+1.8%) also use a very strong end-of-year to finish at #3 vs. #7 a year ago, this is the highest annual ranking of the new Mini launched in 2000 and the highest ranking of the Mini nameplate since 1979. The Mercedes A-Class (-18.3%) gains one spot to a record #4, distancing the VW Polo (+13.6%) and Golf (-29.9%). The Kia Sportage (+40.9%) breaks into the annual UK Top 10 for the first time at #9 and the Toyota Yaris (+29.3%) ends the year at #10.

Previous month: UK November 2021: BMW and Mini Hatch score first wins, MG ZS up to #6 in market up 1.7%

Previous year: UK 2020: Market hit -29.4% by two Covid lockdowns, Ford Fiesta teased by Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Puma in Top 10

Two years ago: UK 2019: Ford, Volkswagen, Mercedes dominate weakest market in 6 years

Full December 2021 Top 42 All-brands and Top 10 models below.

Full Year 2021 Top 42 All-brands and Top 10 models vs. Full Year 2020 figures below.

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