2012 (Full Year) Britain: Best-Selling Car Brands and Manufacturers

Ford, Vauxhall, and Volkswagen remained the most popular car brands in a growing vehicle market in Great Britain during 2012.

Ford B Max Production Line
Ford was again Britain’s Best-Selling Carmaker in 2012 Photo: Ford Wieck

In 2012, Ford, Vauxhall, and Volkswagen were again the top-selling car marques in the United Kingdom (UK). In a growing market, Ford could increase its lead while both Vauxhall and Volkswagen lost market share to competitors. The British car market in 2012 increased to over two million vehicles to become the second-largest car market in Europe after Germany. The Ford Fiesta remained Britain鈥檚 favorite car model.

The British Car Market in 2012

In 2012, the British car market enjoyed 5.3% growth to 2,044,609 new passenger vehicle registrations, according to statistics released by the SMMT. This was the highest number in four years although still 15% lower than in 2007.

In contrast to all major markets in Europe, the UK’s new passenger vehicle market saw positive growth. More remarkably, most of the growth came during the second half of 2012, a period during which European markets performed noticeably worse. Mid-year 2012, the British car market was only growing at 2.7%.

Alternative fuel vehicles took 1,4% of the market or 27,841 cars (+9.4%). Unfortunately, the SMMT figures do not specify the number of electric or hybrid vehicles.

Best-Selling Car Brands and Makes in the UK in 2012

In 2012, the top-selling car marques in Britain were according to the SMMT:

MARQUE2012% Market share2011% Market share% Change
Total2,044,609聽1001,941,253聽1005.32
1Ford281,91713.79265,89413.706.03
2Vauxhall232,25511.36234,71012.09-1.05
3Volkswagen183,0988.96179,2909.242.12
4BMW127,5306.24116,6426.019.33
5Audi123,6226.05113,7975.868.63
6Nissan105,8355.1896,2694.969.94
7Peugeot99,4864.8794,9894.894.73
8Mercedes91,8554.4981,8734.2212.19
9Toyota84,5634.1473,5893.7914.91
10Hyundai74,2853.6362,9003.2418.10
11Citroen73,6563.6068,4643.537.58
12Kia66,6293.2653,6152.7624.27
13Honda54,2082.6550,5772.617.18
14Skoda53,6022.6245,0612.3218.95
15MINI51,3242.5150,1382.582.37
16Fiat49,9072.4441,6122.1419.93
17Land Rover48,6262.3837,6371.9429.20
18Renault40,7601.9968,4493.53-40.45
19SEAT38,7981.9036,0891.867.51
20Volvo31,7901.5532,6571.68-2.65
21Mazda26,1831.2831,2191.61-16.13
22Suzuki24,8931.2220,2951.0522.66
23Jaguar14,1090.6913,7870.712.34
24Chevrolet13,4760.6612,5240.657.60
25Lexus8,4040.418,2690.431.63
26Porsche7,9980.396,3820.3325.32
27Alfa Romeo7,2530.3511,5630.60-37.27
28Mitsubishi6,5490.329,8430.51-33.47
29smart5,6160.275,0440.2611.34
30Chrysler3,3330.161,1820.06181.98

Britain鈥檚 Favorite Cars in 2012

There was little change in the composition of the list of the top ten best-selling car brands in the UK in 2012 compared to 2011. Ford remains the top seller in the UK, as it has been for the last four decades. Vauxhall and Volkswagen were again second and third-most-popular carmakers in the UK but both lost market share with Vauxhall showing negative growth and VW underperforming the broader market.

In 2012, German luxury car manufacturers BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz strengthened their positions from last year by strongly outperforming the broader market.

Nissan and Toyota similarly outperformed the market while Peugeot underperformed slightly but generally did much better in the UK than in other European markets.

The only change in the composition of the top-ten list of best-selling carmakers in the UK was that Hyundai (+18% and from twelfth place last year) pushed Citro毛n (+7.6%) from tenth to eleventh. Kia (+24.3%) improved from thirteenth to twelfth at the expense of Renault, which saw sales decline by another 40% and slipping from eleventh last year to 18th聽place in 2012.

Apart from Renault and Vauxhall, the only other major car manufacturers experiencing negative sales growth in the UK in 2012 were Mazda (-16%) and Volvo (-2.6%). Land Rover, Kia, Fiat, Skoda, and Hyundai were the most-improved brands.

Not surprisingly, Saab fell out of the top-30 list with Chrysler returning to the list for the first time in several years.

For the fourth year in a row, the Ford Fiesta was again Britain鈥檚 best-selling car model in 2012.

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in online writing. His best-selling cars website has been reporting car sales statistics since 2008 with classic car auction prices focusing on the most expensive automobiles sold at public auctions in the past decade. He also owns the travel websites European-Traveler.com and Lake Geneva Switzerland. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Finance from the University of London.