Britain's Best-Selling Vehicle in June 2017 Was Not a Ford, Strange As That May Sound

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
britains best selling vehicle in june 2017 was not a ford strange as that may sound

The Volkswagen Golf was the best-selling new vehicle in the United Kingdom in June 2017, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

So what, you say, the Golf is historically a European powerhouse, a fine car by all accounts, just one that’s not entirely suited to American sales success.

But for the Golf, typically a top five car, to earn outright best seller status in the UK, something had to give.

At just the right time, when the Ford Fiesta was at a weak point, the Volkswagen Golf stepped up with a 29-percent year-over-year increase despite shrinking demand across much of the UK market. The result: the Golf ended a Ford Fiesta streak that had been in good standing for 29 months.

It’s not just Ford’s recent monthly dominance that earns a level of awe.

The Fiesta began its annual reign as the UK’s best-selling new vehicle in 2009. Despite June’s slowdown, 2017 is thus expected to be the ninth consecutive year of Fiesta sales leadership in the UK.

And yet it’s not just the Fiesta’s recent status as the UK’s leading automobile that generates such an air of invincibility for the Blue Oval across the pond.

The Fiesta took over from another Ford, the Focus, as the UK’s best-selling vehicle, and no non-Ford vehicle has been the UK’s No.1 seller since 1971. 2017 will make it a 46-year streak of Fords atop the UK auto sales leaderboard. Forget Brexit: Ford started its run the year before Edward Heath brought the UK into the European Communities.

June’s Volkswagen Golf victory won’t bring a halt to Ford’s streak. Year-to-date, the Fiesta is nearly 23,000 sales ahead of the Golf — a 63-percent gap. Moreover, in order for the Golf to have a hope of ending 2017 as the UK’s top-selling vehicle — and you never know what could happen, as September, which accounts for 17 percent of the annual output, is yet to come — the Volkswagen would need to leapfrog another Ford: the Focus.

Meanwhile, the Fiesta’s slide into the No. 2 slot in June occurred as Ford’s UK dealers lost their grip on the sixth-generation Fiesta but didn’t yet have full possession of the all-new, seventh-gen Fiesta.

Yes, that seventh-gen Fiesta, the one that will reclaim Ford’s traditional position as the builder of Britain’s best-selling vehicle. That Fiesta, the one that still has an uncertain North American future.

Ford won’t comment on the Fiesta’s near-term status at the company’s Cuautitlán, Mexico assembly plant (where America’s Fiestas are built). More likely than not, the Ford EcoSport, a subcompact crossover built in India, will take the Fiesta’s place in the company’s U.S. lineup.

But the steady decline of the Fiesta in North America, a decline that will likely lead to its demise on this side of the Atlantic, bears no resemblance to the success Ford has with the Fiesta on the other side of the Atlantic.

Despite an anticipated, 14-percent slowdown in UK sales, year-over-year, more than one-third of the volume produced by Ford — Britain’s top-selling brand — is Fiesta-derived.

[Image: Volkswagen UK, Ford UK]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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4 of 5 comments
  • Spreadsheet monkey Spreadsheet monkey on Jul 06, 2017

    VW's marketing game is strong here in the UK. It's interesting to compare the British perception of the Golf (high quality, well-designed, reliable) with the American view (fragile, likely to fall apart as soon as the warranty expires). European Golfs and Jettas are assembled in a different location those sold in the US, but I can't imagine the quality differences are that significant. In addition to the Golf doing very well, the Audi A3 is also a regular in the sales top 10 in Britain.

    • Compaq Deskpro Compaq Deskpro on Jul 06, 2017

      I've never been able to wrap my head around BMW's and Land Rovers as police vehicles, but somehow they make them work.

  • Rcx141 Rcx141 on Jul 06, 2017

    Truly astonishing about VW. The Golf Mk 6 and 7 are the most unreliable complained about cars. Car buyers really are blind to everything except the name plate.

    • Matt3319 Matt3319 on Jul 06, 2017

      The 3 GTIs I have owned over the years have all been reliable except when my 2002 GTI's coils went bad and the front window plastic bracket broke. Almost all cars are reliable today except maybe Chinese and Indian cars.

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