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UK September 2018: Mercedes breaks share record, A-Class on podium, market down 20.5%

The Mercedes A-Class scores its first-ever podium ranking in the UK.

* See the Top 43 brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *

Back to reality: after growing during four of the past five months, new car sales in the UK fall 20.5% year-on-year to 338.834 units, the lowest September score since 2011 (332.476). This brings the year-to-date volume down 7.5% to 1.910.820 sales, the weakest 9-month result since 2013 (1.794.924). Private sales match the market at -20.1% to 162.972 and 48.1% share vs. 47.9% a year ago but fleet sales sink 22.4% to 155.417 and 45.9% share vs. 47% in September 2017 and business sales edge down 6.3% to 20.445 and 6% vs. 5.1%. Year-to-date, the various channels show similar evolution with private sales down 6.9% to 859.109 and 45% share vs. 44.7% over the same period in 2017, fleet deliveries down 8% to 974.622 and 51% share vs. 51.3% and business sales down 8% to 76.789 and 4% share, unchanged on 2017. Diesel sales continue to implode at -42.5% to just 98.191 and 29% share vs. 40.1% in September 2017, while petrol sales drop a more muted 6.7% to 217.136 and 64.1% share vs. 54.6% and alternative fuels gain a shy 3.8% to 23.507 and 6.9% share vs. 5.3%. Year-to-date, diesel tumbels down 31.3% to 607.092 and 31.8% vs. 42.8%, petrol is actually up 9.3% to 1.189.154 and 62.2% vs. 52.7% and AFV soars 21.7% to 114.574 and a record 6% share vs. 4.6% a year ago.

September UK sales 2002-2017. Source SMMT

After 3 consecutive months of unheard-of Volkswagen reign, Ford (-16%) reclaims the lead of the UK brands ranking by falling slightly slower than the market to a still meagre 9.8% share vs. 10.8% so far this year. In fact Volkswagen (-55%) logically implodes this month to #8 and 4.8% vs. 12% in August and 8.3% YTD. Mercedes (-4%) jumps four spots on last month to an all-time record 8.9% share and 2nd place overall, a ranking it has held just once before (in April 2017). Vauxhall (-7%) resists very well to climb back up to #3, the brand’s first UK podium ranking since last May. BMW (-11%) remains in 4th place with Toyota (-1%) up five spots to #5 and Nissan (-42%) up 9 to #6 despite a damning loss. The only carmakers to post a year-on-year gain in the Top 20 are Kia (+4%) up from #12 in August to #7 this month, Volvo (+8%) up from #23 to #15 and Jaguar (+19%) up from #21 to #19. Further down, Aston Martin (+89%), Lotus (+85%), Subaru (+63%), Mitsubishi (+35%), Abarth (+27%), MG (+20%) and Ssangyong (+2%) also make themselves noticed.

The Vauxhall Corsa shoots back up 25% year-on-year to rank #2 in September.

Unsurprisingly, the Top 10 models ranking has a totally different composition this month vs. August. The Ford Fiesta (+13%) remains in the lead but is followed this time by the Vauxhall Corsa (+25%) coming from outside the August Top 10 and advancing two spots to #3 YTD. The Mercedes A-Class (+4%) climbs onto the UK podium for the first time in history, with its previous best being #4 hit in April 2017 and February 2018, also beating its volume record at 8.005 (pb 7.672 in September 2017) and equalling its share record at 2.4%, also hit in April 2017. The Nissan Qashqai (-48%) halves its sales YoY but climbs back up 5 spots to #4, the Mini (-15%) is back up to #5, the Nissan Juke (-13%) scores its 2nd Top 10 finish in 19 months and highest since January 2017 at #6, the Kia Sportage is up 3 ranks to #7, its highest since last January, the BMW 1 Series scores its second Top 10 ranking in the past four months at #8, its highest since November 2017 and the Ford Focus (-40%) returns inside the UK Top 10 at #9 after two months outside, something that had never happened before to the Focus nameplate launched in 1998. Finally, there are no VWs in the Top 10 for the first time since March 2004.

Previous month: UK August 2018: Pre-WLTP push has VW #1 brand for 3rd month in a row

One year ago: UK September 2017: Nissan Qashqai first Japanese model to rank #1

Full September 2018 Top 43 brands and Top 10 models below.

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UK August 2018: Pre-WLTP push has VW #1 brand for 3rd month in a row

The VW Polo (+75%) holds onto a record third place in the UK in August.

* See the Top 43 brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *

The UK market enjoys a 4th positive month in the past five in August with registrations up a whopping 23.1% year-on-year during the second smallest month of the year at 94.094 units. Albeit remaining at low levels, this is the largest August score in the UK in at least 17 years (see table below). This encouraging result does not mean the UK market is back on track however, as it was artificially inflated by pre-WLTO stock clearances as we have observed in every European Union market so far this month. The year-to-date tally is now down 4.2% to 1.571.986. Private sales match the market at +23.3% to 41.438 to remain at 44% share, fleet sales are up 19.7% to 50.157 and 53.3% share vs. 54.8% a year ago and business sales surge 166.4% to 2.499 and 2.7% share vs. 1.2%.

August sales 2002-2017. Source SMMT

Year-to-date, private sales once again behave the best at -3.1% to 696.391 units and 52.1% share vs. 52.4% over the same period in 2017, fleet sales are down 4.7% to 819.311 and 52.1% vs 52.4% and business sales sink 8.6% to 56.284 and 3.6% share vs. 3.8%. Sales by alimentation show a curbing of the diesel decline at just -7.7% in August to 27.986 and 29.7% share vs. 39.7% while petrol sales soar 39.1% to 58.619 and 62.3% share vs. 55.2% and alternatively fuelled vehicles surge 88.7% to 7.489 and an all-time record 8% share vs. 5.2% in August 2017. Year-to-date, the diesel freefall is more obvious at -28.7% to 508.901 and 32.4% of the market vs. 43.5% a year ago while petrol sales gai 13.6% to 972.016 and 61.8% share vs. 52.1% and AFVs are up 27.4% to 91.069 and 5.8% share vs. 4.4%

The Ford Kuga (#4) breaks its all-time ranking record in the UK in August…

In the brands ranking, what would have been deemed totally impossible only a few months back is slowly but surely unfolding before our eyes: without a doubt “helped” by pre-WLTP stock clearances, Volkswagen (+63%) is the most popular carmaker in the UK for the third consecutive month and in history. Yes you have read well, before last June Volkswagen had never topped the UK monthly sales charts at any point in time since the launch of the brand in the country shortly after World War II. Granted, the German carmaker’s advantage over traditional leader Ford (+21%) is minuscule in August (47 sales) but the performance remains historical (/hysterical?). September figures, traditionally one of the two largest months of the year due to new license plates, will show us what the UK market truly looks like with WLTP-related disturbances out of the way.

…as is the Seat Leon (#6)…

Audi (+20%) remains in third place followed by BMW (+30%) up two spots to #4, both manufacturer leapfrogging Mercedes (+3%) in the YTD order to now place #4 and #5 respectively. Vauxhall (-24%) has another hellish month and can’t place any nameplate in the Top 10 for the third time in the past 10 months – and potentially ever – after October 2017 and November 2017. Pre-WLTP stock clearances push Suzuki (+147%) up to an all-time record 7th place, Seat (+62%) up to a record 8th position, Honda (+92%) up to its highest level this decade at #11, with McLaren (+567%), Aston Martin (+310%), MG (+224%), Subaru (+127%), Jaguar (+120%), Bentley (+113%), Mitsubishi (+79%), Peugeot (+52%), Land Rover (+46%), Volvo (+35%) and Lexus (+32%) also taking off.

…the Honda Jazz (#7)…

True to form and helped by small volumes favourable to fragmentation, the August UK models ranking is – let’s not beat around the bush – a volatile and artificial mess. The podium however is unchanged on last month: the Ford Fiesta (+104%) is the best-seller above the VW Golf (+83%) and Polo (+75%), meaning Volkswagen places two nameplates on the UK monthly podium for the second month running and ever, and the Polo scores a second consecutive ranking record. The Ford Kuga (+8%) is up four spots on July to break its ranking record at #4, beating the #5 it hit last February. The BMW 3 Series soars to 5th overall, its highest placing in over 6 years (since June 2012). In 6th place, the Seat Leon manages its first ever Top 10 finish in the UK – also the first Seat doing so, while the Suzuki Swift at #8 is the first Suzuki to crack the monthly UK Top 10 according to BSCB records.

…and the Suzuki Swift (#8). All pictures autocar.co.uk

The last anomaly is the 7th place of the Honda Jazz, here too a new all-the record and the nameplate’s first appearance in the UK Top 10 in almost 7 years, its 5th in total after Aug 2006 (#9), Jan 2009 (#9), Feb 2009 (#8) and Oct 2011 (#10). Note the Jazz is the 2nd Honda to have ever cracked the monthly Top 10 alongside the Civic, #9 in April 2006, #9 in Sept 2007 and #8 in March 2008. Finally, note the absence from the Top 10 of the Ford Focus (-43%) for the 2nd straight month and 2nd time since the nameplate launched in 1998. In fact the only times the Focus dropped outside the Top 5 in the past 20 years were in October 2016 and June 2018 when it ranked #6. Deliveries of the new generation, supposed to have kicked in this month, haven’t helped yet.

Previous month: UK July 2018: Volkswagen #1 brand for the 2nd month in a row – and in history

One year ago: UK August 2017: Golf #1, Mokka X and Kuga break records

Full August 2018 Top 43 brands and Top 10 models below.

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UK July 2018: Volkswagen #1 for the 2nd month in a row – and in history

A first ever podium ranking for the Polo keeps Volkswagen as the #1 brand in the UK.

* See the Top 43 brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *

New car sales in the UK return to positive for the third time in the past four months, potentially signally a stabilising of the market, with July deliveries up 1.2% to 163.898, yet this is still the second lowest July score in the past five years. The year-to-date volume remains frankly in negative at -5.5% to 1.477.892. It’s fleet sales that pull the market up this month at +2.6% to 91.542 units and 55.9% share vs. 55.1% a year ago, while private sales edge up 0.1% or less than 100 units to 67.772 and just 41.4% share vs. 41.8% a year ago and business ales drop 10.2% to 4.584 and 2.8% share. Year-to-date, this time private sales take the leadership with a measured -4.4% drop to 654.976 deliveries and 44.3% share improving on 43.8% over the same period a year ago, fleet sales skid -6% to 769.152 and 52% share vs. 52.3% and business sales dive 11.4% to 53.764 and 3.6% share. Diesel sales continue to implode at -24.4% in July to 52.303 and 31.9% share vs. 42.7% in July 2017, offset by petrol sales up 20.1% to 100.861 and 61.5% share vs. 51.8% and Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFV) up a rather timid 21% to 10.734 and 6.5% share, one percentage point above their level of a year ago. The year-to-date picture is even worse for diesel deliveries down 29.6% to 480.915 and 32.5% share vs. 43.7% in 2017, with petrol sales up 12.3% to 913.396 and 61.8% share vs. 52% and AFV sales up 23.8% to 83.581 and 5.7% share vs. 4.3%.

July sales 2002-2017. Source SMMT

It turns out last month’s historic victory by Volkswagen wasn’t a freak event. The German carmaker (+19%) manages to remain the best-selling carmaker in the UK for the second consecutive month, as well as the second time in UK history. An incredible feat by VW that benefits from strong sales of its new Polo and Tiguan (see further down). Ford (-5%) is stuck in 2nd place again, this time 733 sales below VW (the gap was 890 in June), but remains by far in the YTD lead with over 30.000 sales above VW. Audi (+4%) rallies back up three spots on last month to land on the third step of the podium for the third time in the past 12 months after October 2017 and April 2018. Vauxhall (+2%) may have bottomed out, posting a 2nd year-on-year gain in the past 4 months. If Mercedes (-2%) stays at #5, BMW (+10%) is down four ranks on June despite posting a double-digit gain. Nissan (-35%) continues to freefall in the tail end of the Top 10 whereas just outside, Seat (+36%) hits #11 which is a new UK ranking record, with a previous best at #12 last February. Further down, MG (+167%), Bentley (+103%), Suzuki (+62%), Mitsubishi (+46%) and Aston Martin (+44%) are the most dynamic while we welcome Alpine at #42 with 11 sales.

The VW Tiguan scores its 2nd consecutive – and ever – Top 10 ranking in the UK.

The models ranking logically reflects Volkswagen’s new domination. Below the Ford Fiesta (+85%) finally boosted by the new generation, the VW Golf (+7%) is joined by the Polo (+19%) onto the podium. According to BSCB archives this is the first time in UK history that the VW Polo ranks on the podium (previous best #4 in January 2010), and therefore it’s also the very first time that Volkswagen places two nameplates on the UK podium. The Tiguan (#9) also shines by scoring its 2nd ever Top 10 ranking after last month. Bad news for Ford: hit by a badly managed generation changeover (same as the Fiesta last year), the Ford Focus disappears from the UK monthly Top 10 for the first time since the nameplate launched in 1998. In fact the only times the Focus dropped outside the Top 5 in the past 20 years were in October 2016 and last month, in June 2018 when it ranked #6. Deliveries of the fourth generation will start in August so the Focus should reintegrate the Top 10 then. The Corsa (+30%) is the only Vauxhall left in the Top 10, now that the Astra has slipped out even in the YTD order, and this for the first time since the nameplate’s first year in market in 1981. The Nissan Qashqai (-25%) is back to #3 YTD thanks to the Focus weakness, while at #6 the Audi A3 (+10%) posts its highest ranking since October 2016 (#5).

Previous post: UK First Half 2018: VW and Seat strong, Mini at highest since 1980

Previous month: UK June 2018: Historical win for Volkswagen, BMW up to record #2 spot

One year ago: UK July 2017: Ford Focus and VW Golf on top, market down 9.3%

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UK First Half 2018: VW and Seat strong, Mini at highest since 1980

Volkswagen is the best performing manufacturer in the Top 10, the Golf cements its 2nd place.

* See the Top 42 brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *

Brexit uncertainty crippling business prospects and consumer morale alongside aggressive government adversity towards diesel-powered vehicles combined to weigh the UK new car market down a steep 6.3% over the First Half of 2018 to 1.313.994 units, the lowest half-year result since 2014 (1.287.265). The two months of year-on-year gains (April and May) were only due to depleted year-ago months affected by pull-forward sales in the wake of Vehicle Excise Duty increases. Reassuringly, private sales outpace the market slightly at -4.9% to 587.256 units, resulting in a market share improved to 44.7% vs. 44.1% at the same stage last year. Fleet sales roughly follow the market at -7% to 677.614 and 51.6% share vs. 52% in 2017 and business sales plummet down 11.6% to 49.124 and 3.7% share. The diesel demise has never been so real in the UK with sales imploding down 30.2% to 428.612 and less than 1 in every 3 sale (32.6%) vs. 43.8% a year ago. In contrast, petrol sales gain 11.4% to 812.535 and 61.8% vs. 52% halfway through 2017. The only piece of good news comes from alternatively fuelled vehicles up 24.2% to 72.847 to hit a record 5.5% share vs. 4.2% at the same stage last year.

Seat is the only Top 20 carmaker to post a double-digit year-on-year gain so far in 2018.

In the brands ranking, once ultra-dominant Ford (-14%) and Vauxhall (-13%) fall much faster than the market, resulting is contracted shares at 11.1% (#1) and 7.5% (#2) respectively, which according to BSCB records should sadly equate to lowest ever market shares for both brands. Volkswagen (+5%) is an island of positivity in a sea of gloom, cementing the 2nd place it acquired just last year and scoring in June the uncontested main event of 2018 so far by historically snapping its very first pole position in UK history. BMW (-0.3%) manages to almost equal its H1 2017 volume thanks to a supercharged June tally (+20%) to overtake Mercedes and take the leading premium role.

Thanks to the new ZS, MG sales in the UK are up 115% in 2018.

Mercedes (-7%) matches the market while and Audi (-1%) gains a little share. Nissan crumbles 30% and goes from 6.1% to 4.5% share but remains at #7, with Toyota (-0.1%), Kia (+2%) and Hyundai (+2%) staying solid to close out the Top 10. Illustrating the current weakness of the UK market, only one manufacturer manages a double-digit gain inside the Top 20: Seat, up 22%. Large uplifts are more frequent further down the ranking, led by MG (+115%), McLaren (+48%), Abarth (+33%), Porsche (+17%), Subaru (+15%) and Mitsubishi (+14%), even though scathing falls happen more often, with the hardest hit including Infiniti (-74%), Smart (-36%), Aston Martin (-30%), Fiat (-30%), Ssangyong (-29%), DS (-24%), Maserati (-24%), Lotus (-20%) and Renault (-15%).

The Mini is up to 6th place, its highest since 1980 if held until the end of the year.

Over in the models aisle, even though its 6th generation isn’t the smashing success Ford would have hoped for, it enables the Fiesta to do a little better than the UK market at -5% over the First Half of 2018, comfortably headed towards a 10th consecutive year in pole position. The VW Golf simply delivers the best performance in the Top 10 with a 9% year-on-year gain enabling the star nameplate to step up to #2 year-to-date, overtaking a freefalling Ford Focus (-23%) that will need all the sales its new generation, on sale this August, can muster. The Nissan Qashqai (-10%) held a record 3rd spot up until the end of May but falls back to #4 at the half-year mark with the Vauxhall Corsa (-17%) holding the 5th spot like in 2017.

The Vauxhall Astra is likely to be slipping out of the annual UK Top 10 for the first time since the 1981 nameplate’s launch.

The Mini (-8%) manages to gain three spots despite falling faster than the market to reach #6, and if this is held until the end of the year it will be the highest annual ranking of the rebooted Mini launched in 2000 (its current best being #7 in 2009) and the highest for the Mini nameplate since 1980 (#4). As a reminder, the ‘original’ Mini, sold under a succession of brands (Austin Morris, BMC…), reached an all-time best of #2 in 1971 and remained inside the annual UK Top 10 until 1981. The Ford Kuga (+4%) shoots up 5 spots to #8, pencilling 2018 as the year of its first annual Top 10, all the while knocking the Vauxhall Astra out of this very Top 10, and if this is confirmed at year-end it will be the first time ever the Astra nameplate does not make it to the annual Top 10: it ranked #9 for its first year in market in 1981 and never looked back, yet never topping annual charts either.

Previous post: UK June 2018: Historical win for Volkswagen, BMW up to record #2 spot

One year ago: UK First Half 2017: Mercedes shines, places C-Class and A-Class in Top 10

Full H1 2018 Top 42 brands and Top 10 models vs. Full H1 2017 figures below.

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UK June 2018: Historical win for Volkswagen, BMW up to record #2 spot: 2 German brands atop the UK market for the first time ever

Volkswagen is the #1 carmaker in the UK for the first time, the Tiguan breaks into the Top 10.

* See the Top 42 brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *

After two months in positive rebalancing from year-ago months depleted by pull-forward sales in the wake of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) increases, the UK new car market returns to more on-trend decline in June at -3.5% to 234.945 units, the lowest June score since 2014. Year-to-date volumes are now down 6.3% to 1.313.994. Although they do fare better than the market as a whole, private sales still drop in June at -0.6% to 94.694, gaining over one percentage point of market share at 40.3% vs. 39.1% in June 2017. In a somewhat positive sign, fleet sales drop faster than the market at -6.4% to 129.977 and 55.3% share vs. 57.1% a year ago and its business sales (defined in the UK as buyers with fewer than 25 vehicles on their books) that pull the market towards a smaller drop this month, ending a 11-month drought with a very robust 11.3% gain to 10.274 units and 4.4% share. Diesel sales continue their fall from grace at a painful -28.3% this month to 74.361 units and 31.7% share vs. 42.5% in 2017 just as petrol sales gain 12.3% to 145.035 and 61.7% share vs. 53.1% a year ago and alternatively fuelled vehicle sales soar 45% to 15.549 and 6.6% share vs. 4.4% in June 2017. Smaller cars remain the most popular with the Supermini and Lower Medium segments holding 57.4% of the UK market in June. As is the case in most parts of the world, SUVs grow fastest at +16.4% or 6.710 more sales than in June last year.

June sales 2002-2017. Source SMMT

It’s a historical month for the UK brands ranking, the theatre of a spectacular reshuffle. For the first time in history according to BSCB archives, Volkswagen is the most popular carmaker in the UK thanks to deliveries going against the grain at +3% to 23.224 and 9.9% share. After stepping to the monthly UK 2nd place for the first time back in April 2015 and to the annual UK 2nd place for the first time last year, Volkswagen now achieves the ultimate performance in this market. It’s worth noting that this isn’t VW’s highest share in the UK: the German carmaker having crossed the symbolic 10% share mark three times over the past 3.5 years: in February 2015 (10%), April 2015 (10.1%) and December 2017 (10.1%). Volkswagen however remains far below Ford in the YTD ranking as we’ll detail shortly. Let’s also note that Volkswagen has recently managed to increase the pressure atop the monthly UK models ranking as well with the Golf: after a lonely stint as the outright best-seller in the country in February 2011, the Golf replicated the performance no less than three times in 2017, in June, August 2017: and December, becoming that year the first foreign nameplate to manage an annual podium finish (in fact #2) since UK sales records started in 1965.

BMW surges 20% year-on-year to snap the #2 spot in the UK for the first time in history.

It’s not one but two surprises atop the best-selling brands in the UK in June: deliveries up a gigantic 20% – especially given the current depressed context – propel BMW to 2nd place overall, the carmaker’s highest ever monthly ranking in the UK, beating its previous best of #3 hit in December 2012, December 2015 and November 2016. Two German brands leading the UK market: this is a historical first. Below, it’s an extremely difficult month for Ford (-18%) and Vauxhall (-13%), with Ford slipping below 10% share for only the second time this decade after last September. Mercedes (-5%) and Audi (-4%) limit their fall and hold onto their YTD ranking at #5 and #6 respectively, with Kia up a splendid 15% to #8, Hyundai up 9% to #9, Toyota up 1% to #7 and Nissan falling apart at -34% to round up the Top 10. Further down, MG (+177%), Jeep (+77%), Bentley (+36%), Seat (+33%), Subaru (+31%), Abarth (+24%), Mitsubishi (+14%), Lexus (+12%), Suzuki (+12%), Mazda (+11%), Citroen (+10%) and Skoda (+10%) all brave the icy market conditions to deliver double-digit gains (or triple-digit, in the case of now Chinese-owned MG). In contrast, Infiniti (-75%), Lotus (-57%), McLaren (-34%), Dacia (-30%), Fiat (-29%), Smart (-28%), Renault (-23%) and DS (-18%) all but crash.

Boosted up 17% by the new generation, the Polo makes it 3 VWs in the UK Top 10 for the first time.

Over in the models ranking, the Ford Fiesta maintains its leadership thanks to deliveries up 3% year-on-year while the VW Golf returns to the #2 spot it holds YTD, after having its streak of 12 consecutive month in the UK Top 2 interrupted by the Ford Focus last month. The Vauxhall Corsa (+6%) climbs back onto the UK podium for the first time since March 2017, the Mini (-12%) is up three spots on May to #4, its highest monthly ranking so far in 2018 and the new generation propels the VW Polo up 17%, scoring a third consecutive month in the Top 5. Justifying BMW’s ranking record, both the 3 Series (#7) and 1 Series (#10) appear inside the UK Top 10 this month, the latter doing so for the first time since last November. Below the Ford Focus (-42%) and Nissan Qashqai (-23%) both imploding, the VW Tiguan breaks into the UK Top 10 for the very first time at #9 with 3.527 sales, making it 3 Volkswagens in the Top 10 for the first time in history – a timely performance illustrating the German carmaker’s historic win this month.

Previous month: UK May 2018: Ford Focus up 48% in rebalancing market up 3.4%

One year ago: UK June 2017: VW Golf becomes best-seller for the 2nd time ever

Full June 2018 Top 42 brands and Top 10 models below.

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UK May 2018: Ford Focus up 48% in rebalancing market up 3.4%

Demo sales of the 4th gen and discounts on the 3rd push the Ford Focus up 48%.

* See the Top 42 brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *

It’s a second consecutive year-on-year gain in May for UK new car sales at +3.4% to 192.649 units. Far from an indication of market recovery, this growth is, like last month, a rebalancing of sales following May 2017 down a sharp 8.5% as sales had been pulled forward to March due to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) changes. The good news is private sales are solely responsible for this month’s uplift at a solid +10.1% to 83.682 and 43.4% share vs. 40.8% a year ago. In contrast, business sales are down a steep 9.6% to 6.057 and 2.8% share vs. 3.3% and fleet sales drop 0.7% to 103.490 and 53.7% share vs. 55.9%. A better indication of the market’s ill health this year is the YTD tally down 6.8% to 1.079.049 with private sales down 5.7% to 492.570, fleet sales down 7.1% to 547.637 and business aales down 16.2% to 38.842. Petrol cars deliveries continue to rise at +23.5% to 119.149 and 61.8% in May, 10 percentage points above its level of May 2017, whereas diesel sales endure a 14th consecutive month of decline at -23.6% to 62.260 and 32.3% share vs. 43.8% a year ago. Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles leap up 36.1% to 11.240 with plug-in hybrids up 72.7%, hybrids up 22.6% and pure electrics up 18.7%.

UK May sales 2002-2018

Ford retains the lead of the brands ranking, following the market at +3% but posting weak 11% market share, below its YTD level of 11.4% (-13%). In contrast Volkswagen continues to stand out with deliveries up 16% this month to 9.4% share, by far the largest gain in the Top 10 and one percentage point above its YTD level. Vauxhall (-0.4%) manages to climb back up to #3 despite a soft decline, painstakingly outselling all three premium Germans Audi (-1%), Mercedes (-9% but placing both the A-Class and C-Class in the May Top 9) and BMW (+2%). Nissan (-18%) is hit hard but remains at #7 above Hyundai, Toyota and Kia all up 1%. Further down, Seat (+46%), Land Rover (+17%), Renault (+15%), Suzuki (+15%), Volvo (+14%) and Honda (+13%) are the other double-digit gainers in the Top 20 while among smaller brands Lotus (+900%), Jeep (+115%), MG (+105%), Abarth (+79%), Porsche (+56%), Subaru (+49%), McLaren (+37%), Alfa Romeo (+32%), Dacia (+30%), Mitsubishi (+23%) and Jaguar (+20%) all impress.

Volkswagen is up 16%, the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 10.

Over in the models ranking, after a 58% surge in April, the Ford Fiesta falls back to earth in May at -9% to just 3.6% share, its lowest so far in 2018, but remains in pole position. Deliveries of the fourth generation won’t start until August – with the Vignale high-end trim coming in October and the Active crossover-styled in January 2019, but demo sales combined with heavy discounts on the outgoing third gen propel the Ford Focus up by a whopping 48% year-on-year to hit its highest UK ranking since last July at #2. The Focus therefore puts an end to a record 12 consecutive months at either #1 or #2 by the VW Golf, knocked down to #3 in May even though it is up a very solid 17%. The Nissan Qashqai is also down one rank to #4 and is now threatened by the Focus for the #3 spot YTD with a gap thawing to just 210 units vs. 1.827 last month. Thanks to the new generation, the VW Polo posts a 2nd connective month in the Top 5 but surprisingly drops 7% year-on-year. The Mini (-1%) is back inside the Top 10 as is the Audi A3 for the first time since last October.

Previous month: UK April 2018: Market rebounds 10.4% on weak year-ago base

One year ago: UK May 2017: Volkswagen #2 brand in market down 8.5%

Full May 2018 Top 42 brands and Top 10 models below.

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UK April 2018: Market rebounds 10.4% on weak year-ago base

Sales of Ford Fiesta in the UK are up 58% year-on-year in April.

* See the Top 42 All-brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *

After 12 consecutive months of year-on-year declines, the UK market takes a breather in April with a relatively surprising 10.4% gain to 167.911 registrations with YTD volumes down 8.8% to 886.400. In fact, this is a rebalancing of sales following disruption caused at the same time last year by the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) change that came into action on 1st April 2017, resulting in significant volumes being pulled forward to March and giving a particularly low comparison base for this month. As it has been the case so far in April in all major European markets covered (France, Italy and Spain), private sales pull the entire market up at +26.3% to 75.607 and 45% share vs. 39.4% a year ago. YTD also they improve their share thanks to a somewhat limited 8.4% decrease to 408.898 and 46.1% share vs. 45.9% a year ago.

…while the VW Golf is up 70%. Picture autoexpress.co.uk

Fleet sales edge up 0.9% to 87.486 and 52.1% share for the month vs. 57% in April 2017 but drop 8.5% YTD to 444.147 and 50.1% share vs. 49.9% over the same period a year ago. Finally business sales sink 12.9% to 4.818 and 2.9% share and down 17.2% YTD to 33.355 and 3.8%. Diesel sales continue to implode over uncertainties on its future acceptance at -24.9% to 51.377 and 30.6% share vs. 45% a year ago, down 31.9% YTD to 291.991 and 32.9% share vs. 44.1% whereas petrol sales soar 38.5% to 107.169 and 63.8% share vs. 50.9% in April 2017 and up 8.9% to 548.351 and 61.9% share YTD vs. 51.8% in 2017. Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles gain 49.3% to 9.365 and 5.6% of the market, up 16.1% to 46.058 and 5.2% YTD.

April car sales are still at their second-lowest since 2012.

In the brands ranking, the top two best-sellers are also among the best performers in the entire market growth-wise. Ford soars 24% year-on-year to 12% share while Volkswagen surges 47% to 8.7%. Stable sales enable Audi to jump from #6 in March to #3 this month at 7.8% share, while Mercedes is down 11% but stays 4th at 7.1% and Vauxhall is up 4% but down two spots on last month to #5. BMW plunges 19% and is knocked down to #6. Toyota is the other great performer in the Top 10 at +31% to 4% share, yet this is a notch below its YTD level at 4.5% and #8. There are a lot of fast-growing marques further down the ranking, among them McLaren (+511%), MG (+279%), Abarth (+68%), Citroen (+44%), Jaguar (+39%), Volvo (+38%), Dacia (+37%), Seat (+35%), Porsche (+33%), Suzuki (+28%), DS (+27%) and Aston Martin (+25%). Reversely, Chevrolet (-77%), Smart (-49%), Ssangyong (-46%) and Infiniti (-39%) suffer heavy losses.

The VW Polo is back inside the UK Top 5 for the first time since last August.

Model-wise, here too the best-sellers are also the best performers with the Ford Fiesta leaping up 58% year-on-year to 4.7% share and the VW Golf shooting up 70% to 3.3%. The Nissan Qashqai remains in third place both this month (-4%) and YTD (-10%) despite declines in both cases, while the Ford Focus rallies back up 11% to #4 but sinks 29% YTD. Thanks to the new generation, the VW Polo is back inside the UK Top 10 for the first time since last October and in the Top 5 for the first time since last August. It’s still not enough to reintegrate the YTD Top 10 whereas it ended 2017 at #7. The Ford Kuga confirms it is now a regular fixture at the highest level with a 7th consecutive month in the Top 10, cementing its 6th place YTD (#12 in FY2017), with the Vauxhall Mokka X backup to #7 and the Mercedes A (-27%) and C-Class (-30%) rounding up the Top 10 with steep declines.

Previous month: UK March 2018: VW strong in market down 15.7%, diesel down 37.2%

One year ago: UK April 2017: Qashqai teases Fiesta, two Mercedes in Top 4 in market down 20%

Full April 2018 Top 42 All-brands and Top 10 models below.

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UK March 2018: VW strong in market down 15.7%, diesel down 37.2%

What diesel scandal? The VW Golf is up 29% in a market down 16%.

* See the Top 42 brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *

As expected, new car sales in the UK take a 15.7% year-on-year hit in March, traditionally one of the two high-selling months in the country as new license plates get released. The combined effects of an artificially boosted score a year ago in March 2017 when sales were brought forward to avoid an impending tax rise, poor consumer confidence following Brexit and negative perceptions over diesel emissions mean the UK market is down to 474.069 units, roughly equivalent to its 2014 level of 464.824 registrations. The year-to-date volume is down 12.4% to 718.489 sales, also the lowest since 2014 (688.122).

March UK sales return to their 2014 level.

According to a survey by Auto Trader, over 60% of recent or prospective car buyers have had their decision-making influenced by Britain’s exit from the European Union, including some delaying a purchase. Of note are diesel sales imploding 37.2% to just 153.594 and 32.4% share vs. 43.5% a year ago while petrol sales edge up 0.5% to 296.349 and 62.5% share vs. 52.4%. Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (hybrid, EV and PHEV) are up 5.7% to 24.126 or 5.1% share, one percentage point above its level of March 2017. All distribution channels are hit in equal measure: private sales drop 16.5% to 228.623, fleets sink 15% to 222.595 and business sales fall 14.3% to 22.851.

The Ford Kuga posts a 6th consecutive month in the Top 10 and now ranks #6 YTD.

In the brands ranking, after having defied the overall gloom last month with a 22% gain, market leader Ford falls flat in March with a painful 30% drop to just 10.6% share. Volkswagen on the other hand manages to limit its fall to just 4% resulting in an improved 8% share. This is the 10th time in the past 11 months that VW ranks #2, a position it snapped over the Full Year 2017 away from Vauxhall, down another 20% this month but up 3 spots on February. Mercedes (-7%) lead healthy premium carmakers BMW (-9%) and Audi (-3%) all improving their share.

What market decline? McLaren soars 78% year-on-year in March.

Hyundai is the only Top 10 carmaker to post a year-on-year gain, albeit a very slim 0.4%. Nissan (-34%) is the hardest hit while Kia (-4%) and Toyota (-8%) beat the market. Further down, McLaren (+78%), MG (+49%), Abarth (+17%), Mitsubishi (+15%), Subaru (+8%), Seat (+6%), Lexus (+4%) and Honda (+2%) can be proud to be the only Top 40 manufacturers in positive. At the other end of the scale, Infiniti (-84%), Aston Martin (-46%), Smart (-45%), Bentley (-36%), Maserati (-36%), Fiat (-34%), Dacia (-30%), Jeep (-27%), Land Rover (-26%), DS (-24%) and Renault (-24%) all lose at least a quarter of their sales compared with March 2017.

China-made MG sales soar 49% this month in the UK.

Model-wise, the Ford Fiesta posts a third consecutive win but falls faster than the market at -24% to 4.1% share, followed by the VW Golf gaining a staggering 29% to 2.9% share. The Nissan Qashqai leaps up to #3 with a contained 13% year-on-year decline allowing it to #3 YTD which would be a new record if sustained until the end of 2018. The Vauxhall Corsa jumps from outside the February Top 10 back to #4 but loses 27%, yet that’s better than the Ford Focus crumbling down 45% just as the new generation is about to be revealed in China. Excellent performance of the Ford Kuga at #6, down just 6% and lodging a 6th consecutive Top 10 finish: it now ranks #6 YTD vs. #12 in FY2017. Mercedes manages to place both the A-Class (#8) and C-Class (#9) in the Top 10 while the Kia Sportage rounds it out.

Previous post: UK Full Year 2017: Discover the Top 150 best-selling models

Previous month: UK February 2018: Ford ignores surrounding gloom at +22%

One year ago: UK March 2017: Upcoming tax change triggers all-time record month

Full March 2018 Top 42 brands and Top 10 models below.

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UK Full Year 2017: Discover the Top 160 best-selling models

The new model propels the Peugeot 3008 up 145% to #41.

Now amended with correct Honda Civic figures.

* See the Top 160 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

We can now study in a lot more detail Full Year 2017 data for the UK with a Top 155 models available instead of the traditional meagre ten best-sellers. The Kia Sportage (-1%), Ford Kuga (+11%) and Nissan Juke (+0.3%) all within 5.000 sales of the Top 10, while below the Audi A3 (-13%), Vauxhall Mokka (-10%) and BMW 3 Series (-2%) all lose foot. The VW Tiguan (+44%) and Hyundai Tucson (+15%) post the largest year-on-year gains in the 2017 Top 20 in the UK, landing at #20 and #18 respectively. Below, the Peugeot 3008 leaps up 145% and 68 spots to #41 thanks to the new generation, with the Citroen C3 (+94%), Audi A5 (+72%), Honda Jazz (+44%) and Nissan X-Trail (+16%) also very dynamic in the Top 50.

The Jaguar F-Pace is up 38 spots on 2016 to #64.

As far as English nameplates are concerned, below the Mini (-1%) at #8, the Range Rover Evoque (-8%) recedes five ranks to #26, teased by the Land Rover Discovery Sport (+3%) up two to #27, while the Jaguar F-Pace surges 59% and 38 spots on 2016 to end its first full year in market at #64. The Mini Countryman (#73), Range Rover Sport (#74), Jaguar XE (#77) and Land Rover Discovery (#80) follow. The Range Rover Velar is the only new UK nameplate to manage to make its way into the annual Top 150 for the year at #136. Note no MG nameplate (now the property of SAIC) is among the Top 155 best-sellers.

The Toyota C-HR is the most popular recent launch in the UK in 2017. 

Over in the recent launches aisle, the Toyota C-HR is the winner at this little game, landing directly at #53 with just under 15.000 units finding a new UK home in 2017. The Japanese mini crossover distances the Audi Q2 at #62 with a little more than 12.600 sales, the Seat Ateca at #83 with almost 10.500 deliveries and the Skoda Kodiaq at #104 with 6.600 units. Just below are the Fiat Tipo (#107), Suzuki Ignis (#109) and Hyundai Ioniq (#122), with the Volvo S/V90 (#133) and Kia Niro (#138) also making the cut.

Previous post: UK February 2018: Ford ignores surrounding gloom at +22%

First FY2017 post: UK Full Year 2017: VW Golf and Nissan Qashqai break records in market down 5.7%

Previous year: UK Full Year 2016: Second annual record in a row despite Brexit

Two years ago: UK Full Year 2015: Market up 6% to record 2,633,503 units

Full Year 2017 Top 160 models ranking table below.

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UK February 2018: Ford ignores surrounding gloom at +22%, Fiesta and Kuga up

The Ford Fiesta hits its highest market share in the UK in almost 4 years.

* See the Top 42 best-selling brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *

The Brexit effect is nowhere near disappearing in the UK with an 11th consecutive month of year-on-year decline in February at -2.8% to 80.805 registrations, the weakest February score in the UK since 2015. Year-to-date, sales are down 5.1% to 244.420, and the situation is about to get much worse as the number plate change month of March hit all-time record levels in 2017 as registrations were pulled forward to avoid VED changes. Back to February: for once, private sales pull the market up at -2% to 35.277 units and 43.7% share vs. 43.3% a year ago, while fleet are down 2.5% to 44.554 and 55.1% share vs. 55% a year ago and business sales are down an abysmal 30.4% to just 974 units. Year-to-date, fleet sales behave the best at -2.1% to 134.073 and 54.9% share vs. 53.1% a year ago, with private sales down 7.1% to 104.682 and 42.8% share vs. 43.7% and business sales are down 29.8% to 5.665 and 2.3% share vs. 3.1%. Diesel sales continue their freefall at -23.5% to 28.317 in February and -24.9% and 87.020 year-to-date, as opposed to a 14.4% rise for petrol sales this month to 48.941 and +10.4% year-to-date to 144.833. Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (AFV) gain 7.2% in February to 3.547 and 4.4% share, up 18.7% year-to-date to 12.567 and 5.1% share.

The Ford Kuga breaks into the UK Top 5 for the first time this month.

Brand-wise, Ford stuns with a fantastic 22% year-on-year gain to 14.9% share and over 12.000 sales. Volkswagen drops 4% but ranks #2 brand for the 9th time in the past 10 months, and its direct followers are the only two other carmakers posting double-digit gains in the Top 10: BMW (+10%) and Audi (+17%). Mercedes (-0.2%) outsells Vauxhall lodging another paltry month, down 23% to #6 for the third time in the past five months. Further down, Dacia (+139%), Porsche (+108%), MG (+68%), Mitsubishi (+45%), Seat (+36%) and Subaru (+29%) post the most spectacular sales uplifts while on the other end of the scale, DS (-56%), Nissan (-54%), Infiniti (-50%), Ssangyong (-38%), Renault (-37%), Bentley (-28%) and Jeep (-25%) struggle the most.

BMW sales are up 10% year-on-year in February, with the 3 Series in the Top 10.

In the models ranking, the Ford Fiesta confirms it is definitely on the mend with the new generation now taking a grip in the market. Up a stunning 21% to 6.4% share, the Fiesta delivers its highest market share and year-on-year gain since August 2014 (6.5% share and up 42%). In 2nd place, the VW Golf (-1%) posts a 10th consecutive month inside the UK Top 2, followed by the Ford Focus (+4%). The Mercedes A-Class gains two spots on January to rank #4, its highest ever UK ranking also hit last April. The Ford Kuga is up four ranks on last month to break into the monthly UK Top 5 for the very first time, beating its previous record of #6 hit last August. Below the Vauxhall Mokka X, Mini and Mercedes C-Class, the BMW 3 Series snaps a third Top 10 ranking in the past 9 months after last June and November, even though it drops 13% year-on-year.

Previous month: UK January 2018: 10th consecutive year-on-year decline at -6.3%

One year ago: UK February 2017: Golf pushes Volkswagen to #2 YTD, stable market

Full February 2018 Top 42 brands and Top 10 models below.

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