Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen were the top-selling car brands in the UK in 2016. Car sales in Britain set a new record high for a calendar year increasing by 2.5% to 2,692,786 new passenger vehicle registrations. German premium brands BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz gained market share at the expense of the larger mass-market brands.
The British Car Market in 2016 (Full Year)
New passenger vehicle registrations in the UK in 2016 were a record high 2,692,786 cars – an increase of 2.25% from last year, which was the previous record.
The increase in car sales in Britain is attributed to a growing economy, easy credit and creative financing options, as well as interesting new models. The British new car market is highly competitive with well over 400 models on offer. A further 70 car launches are planned for 2017.
However, the outlook for 2017 is less positive with a small contraction expected by many analysts. Political uncertainty due to Brexit and potential price increases due to weakness of the pound may influence the market negatively.
British Car Sales per Year
New passenger vehicle registrations in Britain were as follows in recent years:
|Year||UK Car Sales||% Change|
Best-Selling Car Marques in the UK in 2016 (Full Year)
The top-selling car brands in Britain in 2016 according to car sales statistics released by the SMMT were as follows:
|Brand||Cars Sold in 2016||% Market Share 2016||Cars Sold 2015||% Change|
|Total UK Sales||2,692,786||2,633,503||2.25|
* Citroen and DS figures were combined under Citroen until May 2015.
Top Ten Best-Selling Car Brands in Britain in 2016
There were no changes in the top ten best-selling car marques in Britain in 2016 compared to 2015 with the only rank order change a swap of positions for Mercedes Benz and Nissan. However, the brands had markedly different performances.
The top three best-selling car brands in the UK in 2016 remained Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen but all three had much weaker sales than a year ago and lost market share in an expanding market. Ford sales were down 5%, Vauxhall down 7% and VW down 7.5%. Each of these top-selling brands lost around 2% market share in the last five years.
The sales of so-called premium brands were much stronger: BMW and Audi maintained their fourth and fifth positions from a year ago and Mercedes Benz improved from 7th to 6th. All three brands had strong sales increases with Mercedes Benz selling 17% more cars in Britain in 2016 compared to a year ago – of the top 20 best-selling brands in Britain, only Land Rover performed better.
Nissan and Toyota sales were slightly weaker than a year ago while Peugeot sales in Britain were down by 5.5% in 2016. Hyundai was again the tenth best-selling brand in Britain in 2016 with sales up 5%. A strong performance by Kia saw the second South Korean brand moving up from 12th to 11th.
A few further salient features from the new car sales statistics for Britain in 2016:
- The worst performing larger brands: Citroen, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Vauxhall.
- Most-improved brands: Infinity, DS, Jaguar and Abarth.
- Largest increase in car numbers: Mercedes sold 24,500 more cars than a year ago, BMW 15,000, and Land Rover 13,000.
- Largest decreases in car numbers: Vauxhall – 18,800, Ford – 17,000, and VW – 16,750.
The Ford Fiesta remained Britain’s favorite car in 2016 although sales were down for many of the top-ten most popular car models in the UK.