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’s 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:

  MARQUE 2012 % Market share 2011 % Market share % Change
  Total 2,044,609  100 1,941,253  100 5.32
1 Ford 281,917 13.79 265,894 13.70 6.03
2 Vauxhall 232,255 11.36 234,710 12.09 -1.05
3 Volkswagen 183,098 8.96 179,290 9.24 2.12
4 BMW 127,530 6.24 116,642 6.01 9.33
5 Audi 123,622 6.05 113,797 5.86 8.63
6 Nissan 105,835 5.18 96,269 4.96 9.94
7 Peugeot 99,486 4.87 94,989 4.89 4.73
8 Mercedes 91,855 4.49 81,873 4.22 12.19
9 Toyota 84,563 4.14 73,589 3.79 14.91
10 Hyundai 74,285 3.63 62,900 3.24 18.10
11 Citroen 73,656 3.60 68,464 3.53 7.58
12 Kia 66,629 3.26 53,615 2.76 24.27
13 Honda 54,208 2.65 50,577 2.61 7.18
14 Skoda 53,602 2.62 45,061 2.32 18.95
15 MINI 51,324 2.51 50,138 2.58 2.37
16 Fiat 49,907 2.44 41,612 2.14 19.93
17 Land Rover 48,626 2.38 37,637 1.94 29.20
18 Renault 40,760 1.99 68,449 3.53 -40.45
19 SEAT 38,798 1.90 36,089 1.86 7.51
20 Volvo 31,790 1.55 32,657 1.68 -2.65
21 Mazda 26,183 1.28 31,219 1.61 -16.13
22 Suzuki 24,893 1.22 20,295 1.05 22.66
23 Jaguar 14,109 0.69 13,787 0.71 2.34
24 Chevrolet 13,476 0.66 12,524 0.65 7.60
25 Lexus 8,404 0.41 8,269 0.43 1.63
26 Porsche 7,998 0.39 6,382 0.33 25.32
27 Alfa Romeo 7,253 0.35 11,563 0.60 -37.27
28 Mitsubishi 6,549 0.32 9,843 0.51 -33.47
29 smart 5,616 0.27 5,044 0.26 11.34
30 Chrysler 3,333 0.16 1,182 0.06 181.98

Britain’s 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 Citroën (+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 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’s best-selling car model in 2012.