Best-Selling Cars

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2016 (Half Year) Britain: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

by Henk Bekker

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UK new passenger vehicle registrations increased by 3.2% between January and June 2016 to a new record high 1,420,636 cars. Ford and the Fiesta remained Britain’s top-selling car brand and model.

Ford Fiesta ST200 Geneva 2016

During the first half of 2016, the British new car market expanded by 3.2% to 1,420,636 new passenger vehicle registrations – the strongest first half of a calendar year ever recorded in the UK. However, in June 2016, car sales were down a modest 0.8% with Brexit adding a major element of uncertainty for the car market in Britain during the second half of 2016. Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen lost market share but remained the top-three brands. The Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Focus were again the three most-popular car models in Britain in 2016.

The British Car Market in 2016 (First Half)

New passenger vehicle registrations in the United Kingdom expanded during the first six months of 2016 by 3.2% to another record January to June period of 1,420,636. During the first half of 2016, more than 40,000 more cars were sold in Britain compared to the previous record half year in 2015.

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However, June 2016 was the first negative month since October 2015, which brought a period of 43 consecutive months of growth to an end. In June, car sales in Britain declined by 0.8% but the outlook for the second half of 2016 is very uncertain. Political uncertainty is generally a negative factor on car sales but some buyers may bring purchase forward hoping to avoid higher import prices due to a weaker currency. July and August are traditionally low-volume months so the first useful indication of market direction will only emerge when the September figures become available in October.

Best-Selling Car Brands in Britain in 2016 (First Half)

The following were the top-selling car marques in Britain during the first half of 2016 according to new passenger vehicle registration figures released by the SMMT:

2016

Marque

HY 2016

HY 2015

% Change

% Market share

Total

1,420,636

1,376,889

3.2

100

1

Ford

171,192

177,150

-3.4

12.05

2

Vauxhall

132,947

142,434

-6.7

9.36

3

Volkswagen

109,566

120,064

-8.7

7.71

4

BMW

91,610

80,363

14.0

6.45

5

Audi

89,521

86,009

4.1

6.3

6

Mercedes-Benz

88,603

74,803

18.5

6.24

7

Nissan

78,582

83,423

-5.8

5.53

8

Peugeot

54,776

57,337

-4.5

3.86

9

Toyota

54,504

53,945

1.0

3.84

10

Hyundai

48,077

46,743

2.9

3.38

11

Kia

46,343

42,248

9.7

3.26

12

Renault

44,570

36,840

21.0

3.14

13

Land Rover

42,559

36,164

17.7

3

14

Skoda

42,233

39,468

7.0

2.97

15

Citroen*

37,781

45,483

-16.9

2.66

16

MINI

33,963

31,304

8.5

2.39

17

Fiat

33,324

32,676

2.0

2.35

18

Honda

32,449

27,653

17.3

2.28

19

Mazda

26,381

23,548

12.0

1.86

20

SEAT

24,634

27,327

-9.9

1.73

21

Volvo

22,629

21,156

7.0

1.59

22

Suzuki

19,944

17,687

12.8

1.4

23

Jaguar

16,597

9,882

68.0

1.17

24

Dacia

13,445

14,463

-7.0

0.95

25

Mitsubishi

10,544

13,190

-20.1

0.74

26

DS*

9,436

794

1088.4

0.66

27

Jeep

7,600

5,354

42.0

0.53

28

Lexus

7,416

6,929

7.0

0.52

29

Porsche

6,712

6,192

8.4

0.47

30

smart

5,743

3,520

63.2

0.4

31

Alfa Romeo

2,705

2,612

3.6

0.19

32

Ssangyong

2,342

1,355

72.8

0.16

33

Abarth

2,005

1,078

86.0

0.14

34

MG

1,896

1,670

13.5

0.13

35

Subaru

1,828

1,667

9.7

0.13

36

Infiniti

1,565

609

157.0

0.11

37

Bentley

961

732

31.3

0.07

38

Maserati

712

778

-8.5

0.05

39

Aston Martin

467

496

-5.9

0.03

40

Lotus

140

187

-25.1

0.01

41

Other Imports

1,908

1,044

82.8

0.13

42

Other British

423

379

11.6

0.03

*Citroen figures for January to May 2015 include DS sales.

Top-Ten Best Selling Car Brands in Britain in 2016 (First Half)

There were no changes in the top-ten marques in Britain although the rank order changed slightly.

The top three best-selling car brands in Britain remained Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen but all three had weaker sales in an expanding market with Vauxhall and Volkswagen each losing a full percentage market share. Vauxhall’s market share fell below 10%. Volkswagen was the worst performer of the top-ten brands in the UK and had sales down by nearly a fifth in June 2018.

BMW improved from sixth place last year to fourth in 2016. Audi slipped one place with sales just above market average. Mercedes Benz was the most-improved brand amongst the top ten marques and improved from seventh a year ago.

Nissan slipped two positions with weaker sales while Peugeot kept eighth place despite weaker sales. Toyota and Hyundai also maintained their positions from a year ago with positive sales but increases below market average.

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A few further salient features from the British car sales statistics for the first half of 2016:

The most-improved brands amongst the top 30 were Jaguar, Smart and Jeep.

The worst performers amongst the top 30 were Mitsubishi, Seat and Volkswagen.

Renault increased sales by more than a fifth and moved up two rank positions. Land Rover also improved two positions with much stronger sales.

DS sales are included in Citroen figures for January to May 2015 making comparative statistics such as the 1000% sales increase nonsensical.

Top Ten Best-Selling Cars in Britain in 2016 (First Half)

The ten top-selling cars in Britain during the first half of 2016 according to the SMMT were:

2016

Model

2016 (HY)

2015 (HY)

1

Ford Fiesta

68,833

71,990

2

Vauxhall Corsa

42,356

50,125

3

Ford Focus

38,715

45,078

4

Volkswagen Golf

37,577

38,261

5

Nissan Qashqai

33,656

34,501

6

Vauxhall Astra

28,406

29,996

7

Volkswagen Polo

28,000

28,980

8

Mini

24,293

23,455

9

Vauxhall Mokka

22,462

NA

10

Mercedes Benz C Class

22,069

24,676

The order of the top seven best-selling cars in Britain during the first half of 2016 was unchanged from a year ago. The Ford Fiesta comfortably remained Britain’s favorite car in 2016 but all of the best-selling car models sold in lower volumes than during the first six months of 2015. The volume declines were especially strong for the Corsa and Focus.

Despite Volkswagen’s current woes, the VW Golf remained the favorite foreign branded car in the UK. (The Ford cars are mostly imported from Germany too.)

The Nissan Qashqai was again the best-selling Japanese car and the favorite SUV in Britain.

Mini sales increased allowing the BMW-owned brand to improve two rank positions from a year ago. The Vauxhall Mokka is a new entrant, at the expense of the Audi A3 that was the eighth best-selling car model in the UK last year. The Mercedes Benz C-Class slipped on position as the tenth most-popular car model in the UK in 2016.

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