So you thought all the fuss about the Royal Wedding was over for good? Wait for it… no it’s not! What better opportunity will I ever have to bring you up-to-date on the British car market?
About one a day. But then, the alternative would have been another Toyota Hilux series to celebrate the other occasion of last weekend.
Should you be well and truly over anything remotely connected to British royalty, that’s ok, I understand. And there are 153 other countries to explore in my blog. You will enjoy it because it is grand.
Back to the Queen and all.
For those of you – admit it, you were watching, at least with one eye – that paid more attention to the cars than the dresses (was I the only one?), you will have noticed a 1978 custom-designed Rolls Royce Phantom VI (Kate’s ride), a Bentley State Limousine (William’s ride), bodyguards in Range Rovers, a couple of Jaguars, an Aston Martin DB5 Convertible, plus a couple of nice carriages and beautiful horses.
Now the big news: carriages have gone out of fashion with the masses, and most British (and the world) have never stepped into these cars… As much as we love a good Royal Wedding, it gives a false impression. In 2010, Bentley and Aston Martin had a 0.05 percent market share in the UK, Rolls Royce was at 0.02 percent (but had a record year with world sales of 2,711 units – up 171%), only Jaguar commanded a relatively reasonable 0.81 percent share with 16,417 units sold.
Alright. Now that we have covered the 1 percent of the British market that reflects all the Royal Wedding pomp we’ve seen on TV, let’s talk business and look at what 99% of British consumers buy. Yes, the real people, what cars do they buy, really? (but if you can’t get enough Royal Wedding cars, go here)
First a bit of perspective. Let’s rewind 35 years to 1975: then, no less than 7 English brands were represented in the Top 10 models ranking: Austin, Ford (the UK branch), Hillman, Leyland, Mini, Morris and Vauxhall (General Motors’ UK branch). Check it out:
UK Top 10 Best selling models in 1975:
Nowadays we’re down to Ford, Vauxhall and Mini. In the consumer’s mind, these three brands produce national cars even though in a strict sense none are British-owned. Bentley is now owned by VW, Rolls Royce is licensed to BMW, Land Rover & Jaguar were sold to the Indians.
MG is in the process of being revived. MG6 and MG3 UK assembly planned for 2011-2012 in the Longbridge plant, and Rover still survives in China under the name Roewe. Lame.
So not really a good story for all these British car brands. Now the good news is, Ford UK has placed a model on top of British sales for the last 40 years! Yep, that’s 40 consecutive years of Ford domination. The manufacturer achieved this thanks to the Cortina, Escort, Fiesta and Focus nameplates. Talk about predictable… The last non-Ford to lead the English market was the Austin Morris 1100/1300 in 1971.
Now about the UK market this year.
Oh wait just one last thing before I do that, I’m sure you’re all dying to know what were the best selling cars in the UK at the time of the last Royal Wedding, Lady Di’s in 1981.
Be my guest:
UK Top 10 Best selling models in 1981:
This was the last year the Ford Cortina (aka Ford Taunus in Continental Europe) dominated UK sales before the Ford Escort took the lead for the following 9 years.
Ok now to today. In 2010, the UK market was up 2 percent at 2,030,846 registrations. This was only due to a first half boosted by scrappage schemes, since July 2010 and up to April 2011 the UK market has been falling each month.
UK Top 10 Best selling models in 2010:
|8||BMW 3 Series||42,020||2.1%|
The Ford Fiesta is currently the best selling model in England, selling 103,013 units for a 5.1 percent market share in 2010. The Fiesta hopped onto the first place as soon as the new generation launched in late 2008. Now that the honeymoon period after the launch is over and the hype has come down, the Fiesta has loosened its grip on the UK market and the ranking has gone a little crazy.
In December 2010, the Vauxhall Astra (Opel in Continental Europe), freshly revamped, topped the charts.
In January 2011, the Ford Focus, UK best-seller for 10 years before the Fiesta took over, had a revival solely due to rebates on the current model about to be replaced.
In February 2011, the VW Golf, not satisfied with dominating the European ranking, also took the lead in the UK for the very first time in the Golf nameplate’s 35 year history. Nothing less.
In March and April 2011, things came back to normal somehow with the Fiesta holding the pole position. But expect more turbulence in 2011 with the new gen Focus gearing up.
UK Top 10 best selling models in April 2011
|9||BMW 3 Series||3,133||2.3%|
As you would know by now ,I won’t let you go before sharing some more trivia so you can boast about your incredible knowledge about the British car market.
In 2010, the Nissan Qashqai (the European Rogue) ranked #10 over the full year with 39,048 sales and 1.9 percent share. This was the first year since 1983 and the Nissan Sunny that a Japanese car landed in the year-end Top 10.
Last month, the Vauxhall Insignia ranked 7th. Launched in 2008 and sold under the Opel brand in Continental Europe, it was the first car to use General Motors’ Epsilon II platform, the one the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu will be based on.
Thanks to the new generation just launched, the VW Passat is back in the UK Top 10 in April 2011, the first time since July 2007. In fact, with the Golf at #2 and the Polo at #6, Volkswagen places 3 models in the Top 10, like Vauxhall. It is the first time in almost 6 years this happens. Last time was October 2005.
Now if you want to explore the British car market in much more detail, month by month up to 2003, and year by year up to 1965, you can always check my blog here. Also, the Top 50 best selling models in the UK in 2010 are here.
That’s all for today!
Source of UK sales figures: The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (http://www.smmt.co.uk)
Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.