2018 (Full Year) Britain: Best-Selling Car Manufacturers and Brands

In 2018, Ford was again the top-selling car marque in the UK despite weaker sales. Volkswagen was again the second best-selling brand in Britain.

In 2018, new passenger vehicle registrations in the UK contracted by 7% to 2,367,147 cars. Ford remained the clear market leader despite losing market share to second placed Volkswagen. Vauxhall was the third best-selling car brand in Britain in 2018 followed by Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Kia was the only top-ten car marque in Britain with higher sales in 2018.

The British New Car Market in 2018 (Full Year)

New passenger vehicle registrations in Britain declined by 6.83% to 2,367,147 cars in 2018 – 173,470 cars fewer than were sold in the UK in 2017. This was the weakest British new car market since 2013.

2018 was the second consecutive year of lower car sales in the UK following a 5.65% contraction in 2017. New car sales in Britain expanded annually between 2011 and 2016.

The British new car market in 2018 was hit by uncertainty over the consequences of Brexit but also over confusion of domestic emission regulatory policy, especially concerning possible driving bans or higher charges for diesel cars.

The move away from diesel cars continued in 2018: following a decline in market share from 47,7% in 2016 to 42% in 2017, diesel cars sales were down by another third for only a 31.7% share of the British new car market in 2018. Petrol engines share correspondingly increased to 62.3% from 53.4% a year ago.

Only 15,474 electric cars (+13.8%) were sold in the UK in 2018 for a market share of only 0.7%. Hybrid cars had a market share of 5.75% with 141,234 hybrid cars (+20.9%) sold in the UK in 2018.

Annual New Car Sales in Britain Since 2007

© SMMT

New passenger vehicle registrations in the UK per year since 2007 were as follows:

YearUK Car Sales% Change
20182,367,147-6.8
20172,540,617-5.65
20162,692,7862.25
20152,633,5036.3
20142,476,4359.4
20132,264,73711
20122,044,6095.3
20111,941,253-4.4
20102,030,8461.8
20091,994,999-6.4
20082,131,795-11
20072,404,007
Source: SMMT

Best-Selling Car Brands in the UK in 2018

The top 40 best-selling car marques in Britain in 2018 according to new passenger vehicle registration data released by the SMMT were:

MARQUE20182017% Share% Change
Total2,367,1472,540,617100-6.83
1Ford254,082287,39610.73-11.59
2Volkswagen203,133208,4628.58-2.56
3Vauxhall177,298195,1377.49-9.14
4Mercedes-Benz172,238180,9707.28-4.83
5BMW172,048175,1017.27-1.74
6Audi143,739174,9826.07-17.85
7Nissan102,637151,1564.34-32.1
8Toyota101,922101,9854.31-0.06
9Kia95,76493,2224.052.73
10Hyundai89,92593,4033.8-3.72
11Peugeot81,04382,2263.42-1.44
12Land Rover77,90682,6533.29-5.74
13Skoda74,72479,7583.16-6.31
14MINI67,02168,1662.83-1.68
15SEAT62,86356,1302.6612
16Renault62,16869,1102.63-10.04
17Honda52,57053,9012.22-2.47
18Volvo50,31946,1392.139.06
19Citroen49,61851,4552.1-3.57
20Mazda39,60239,0921.671.3
21Suzuki38,51940,3431.63-4.52
22Jaguar37,01935,5441.564.15
23Fiat35,65244,4751.51-19.84
24Dacia24,16925,1491.02-3.9
25Mitsubishi21,15616,0920.8931.47
26Porsche12,43714,0510.53-11.49
27Lexus12,40512,6700.52-2.09
28MG9,0494,4410.38103.76
29smart7,63110,3230.32-26.08
30Jeep6,1146,3800.26-4.17
31Abarth5,6314,4410.2426.8
32DS5,0749,0820.21-44.13
33Alfa Romeo4,1614,9970.18-16.73
34Subaru3,1412,6790.1317.25
35Ssangyong2,7543,5900.12-23.29

Source: SMMT

Top Ten Best-Selling Carmakers in Britain in 2018

There were no changes in the composition of the list of the top ten best-selling car brands in Britain in 2018 compared to a year ago with the only rank order change Kia and Hyundai swapping positions.

In 2018, Ford maintained its traditional position as leading carmaker in the UK but Ford lost market share with sales down by 11.6%. Ford sold 254,062 cars in Britain in 2018 with the Ford Fiesta celebrating a decade as the top-selling car model in the UK.

Volkswagen was the second biggest car brand in the UK in 2018 for the second consecutive year. Although VW sales were down 2.6%, Volkswagen managed to take some market share from Ford and shrank the gap in sales from around 80,000 cars in 2017 to just over 50,000. In 2016, Ford sold 110,000 more cars in Britain than Volkswagen.

Vauxhall was again in third place and although sales were down by 9%, this was less disastrous than the fifth in sales that Vauxhall lost in Britain in 2017. In 2016, Vauxhall was still the second largest car brand in the UK with sales 43,000 ahead of VW. In 2018, Vauxhall was only 5,000 cars ahead of Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW both had weaker sales in Britain in 2018 but both outperformed the broader market to gain some market share. In contrast, Audi sales slipped by 18%.

Nissan was the worst performing of the top 30 car brands in the UK in 2018 with sales down by a third. Nissan sales were down by 50,000 cars to end just ahead of Toyota that had flat sales to gain market share in Britain.

Kia and Hyundai swapped rank positions with Kia the only manufacturer among the top ten car brands in Britain with higher sales volumes in 2018.

Top 40 Best-Selling Car Brands in Britain in 2018 (Full Year)

It was mostly red figures for the other major car brands in Britain in 2018 too. Peugeot moved ahead of Land Rover while Skoda maintained 13th place.

Mini and Seat each moved up a rank position as Renault slipped two places for the second consecutive year. Seat sales in the UK increased by 12% in 2018 – by far the best performance of any top 20 brand.

Honda maintained 17th place while Volvo swapped places with Citroen with sales up by nearly a tenth. Mazda re-entered the top 20 list at the expense of Fiat that lost three rank position for the second year running with sales down by a fifth in 2018 after a 27% drop in 2017.

The most-improved of the top 40 brands in Britain in 2018 were a resurgent MG, Mitsubishi and Abarth. Seat and Mitsubishi were the only two brands to increase volumes significantly.

The worst-performing brands in Britain in 2018 were Infiniti, DS, Nissan and Smart. Nissan, Ford and Audi lost the most units sales.

The Ford Fiesta remained the best-selling car model in the UK in 2018 ahead of the VW Golf and the Vauxhall Corsa.