By on August 4, 2017

Mini Cooper 5-door production line Oxford - Image: BMW UKAuto sales in the United Kingdom tumbled 9 percent in July 2017, a fourth consecutive year-over-year monthly decline for a market that had surged to record-high levels in the first-quarter of 2017.

A transitioning period for the Ford Fiesta — entering a new generation that is almost certainly not bound for North America — dropped the UK’s normal best-selling vehicle out of the top spot for a second consecutive month. Another Ford, the Focus, took over as the UK’s top-selling automobile as total sales at Ford, the UK’s top-selling brand, plunged 24 percent compared with July 2016.

Ford’s drop was by no means the only sharp decrease. Losses of more than 20 percent were also reported by Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Citroën’s DS brand, Fiat, Jeep, Peugeot, and Vauxhall.

Apparently, Brexit is to blame.

Britons narrowly voted to leave the European Union more than one year ago, on June 23, 2016. The British government didn’t actually ignite the process — by triggering Article 50 — for another nine months, on March 29, 2017.

Despite dire predictions for sudden economic collapse, auto sales continued to soar post-Brexit vote. In fact, 2016 ended as the highest-volume year in the history of the UK auto market with nearly 2.7 million sales.

Early 2017 continued the growth trend thanks in large part to March results that rose to an all-time monthly high of more than 562,000 sales.2017 Vauxhall Corsa - Image: GMBut March’s results may have misrepresented the picture by pulling sales forward ahead of April tax changes. April sales then tumbled by a fifth. Uncertainty credited to a June general election may have led to a 9-percent auto sales decrease in May. June’s 5-percent decline ended a first-half that was still Britain’s second-best ever.

By July, however, the decreases were being felt across the board. Business, fleet (over half the market), and private sales all lost a significant number of sales in July. Diesel-powered vehicles — which represented 49 percent of UK auto sales in July 2016 — were down 20 percent and saw their market share fall to 43 percent as consumers begin to wonder where government diesel policies will land.

But according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, economic uncertainty is the issue at play. “The fall in consumer and business confidence is having a knock on effect on demand in the new car market,” SMMT’s CEO Mike Hawes says, “and government must act quickly to provide concrete plans regarding Brexit.”

The good news in a declining market, according to the SMMT, is that a declining market increases competition while OEMs attempt to re-align production to demand. “It will be a good opportunity for consumers to get a great deal on their next car,” Hawes says.

Besides the harsh declines reported by Ford and other brands listed above, BMW, Honda, Infiniti, Jaguar, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, Smart, Suzuki, and Volvo all sold fewer new vehicles in July 2017 than July 2016.

Top-selling models such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Astra, and Volkswagen Polo collectively stumbled to the tune of a 48-percent July drop.

[Image: BMW, GM]

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

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38 Comments on “Brexit Blamed For Continued Slowdown In United Kingdom Auto Sales...”


  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    LOL! Brexit is the new whipping boy in the UK. Did you stub your toe today? That damn BREXIT!!!!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    You mean, the folks in Britain actually voted for something that worked against their own economic interests without thinking it through?

    Wow, thank God Americans would *never* do that!

    • 0 avatar
      xtoyota

      They did….. They didn’t want some other Country dictating laws and policy’s
      for England

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Valid points.

        Problem is, a) there was going to be an economic blowback from that, and b) no one talked about the specifics of how it would actually look.

        Reminds me of any number of debates currently going on in certain other countries whose name begins with “United,” and don’t use round footballs…

        Brexit is a cautionary tale, far as I’m concerned.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        xtoyota,
        Actually, the UK held significant sway into how the EU is/was run. It shows what little knowledge you have.

        The UK will lose a lot of influence within the EU. Banks are moving to Ireland and Germany. Did you know most EU trade went through London?

        The UK is the centre of trade for the EU. It will lose this position along with it’s standard of living.

        To those who use Nationalism with little thought on really what is best nationally are the simple ones within our society.

        Every country has similar types, even Australia and the US.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      FreedMike – intelligent people would never fall for the emotional rhetoric generated by a tiny group of self serving individuals.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Never once have we done that. Nope.

        But in fairness, Trump is just the latest in a long, long string of “we didn’t think that through” epic fails. It’s nothing new, really.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @FreedMike – I did not mention his name for that very reason.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You know what scares me, Lou? I could care less that the guy’s a “Republican,” or a “conservative”. Whatever. We’ve had plenty of both, and the Republic survived.

            What bothers me is simple: this guy has NO idea what he’s doing, and the ideas he’s following all appear to be the direct result of different voices in his head.

            It’s all amusing…until some crisis happens that will require him to do more than scratch out Twitter feeds. He’ll need the American people behind him. Say what you will about W., but after 9/11, he had enough obvious competence, personal capital and credibility with the American people that we lined up behind him (of course, he squandered that in Iraq, but that’s another story).

            Trump is so far off the plot that he may not even get *his own party* behind him if there’s some kind of crisis. A lot of Republicans think he’s grossly incompetent at best, and maybe even nuts.

            How bad is it? At this point, I’d prefer Mike Pence. So would a lot of other Democrats. Pretty amazing, really.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @FreedMike – agreed. A recent study done in Canada showed that people were more fearful of the USA than China or Russia.
            I’ve voted on both sides of the political spectrum based upon the platform put forward by the party or whether or not the current government was living up to my expectations.
            He was a loose cannon right from the start and many voted for him just because he would leave a path of destruction in his wake or piss off the opposition. Those aren’t sound reasons to vote.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Drumpf is even a failure as a businessman, despite his ebullient claims to the contrary.

            He’s basically the equivalent of yesteryear’s traveling salesman hawking a “health elixir.”

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          FreedMike,
          I will like to see the outcome in France with Macron.

          France really surprised me. A true centrist swept in.

          The problem with the current left-right situation is both sides oppose just to oppose with little scope of achieving or doing what is correct for the country.

          This left-right divide became party based and now in the US it has lowered itself down to a Reality TV show based on how a particular person fells.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    [Nelson]HA HA![/Nelson]

    Back to the malaise of the 70s.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    If the EU hadn’t shoved immigration policy down their throats, they never would have voted to exit. A nation needs to be able to control its own borders. Sound familiar? It is the fault of the EU in Europe and the left in the US when people inevitably react to loss of border control. Go ahead and tell them they are too ignorant to know what is best for themselves and scream -ism and -phobia for good measure. No one cares anymore.

    You did it to yourselves, lefties, but you are incapable of comprehending it. When Euro/Skandi nations begin to fracture due to unassimilated immigration, you will have another opportunity to reflect on whether people can determine what is in their interest. The UK’s mistake was not exit, it was joining in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Margaret Thatcher: leftie.

      Nothing like a little comedy on a Friday morning, folks.

      https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/thatcher-would-vote-yes-to-eu-bfr9c3nnzc8

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        I don’t think you read the article you cited FM. Thatcher did no such thing.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          The Iron Lady would roll over in her grave if she heard you assert that she was in favor of letting foreign bureaucrats dictate British immigration policy.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I didn’t assert that at all. The article quotes her one of her closest advisors and said she would have renegotiated the agreement before just flipping the bird at the EU.

            And, yes, Thatcher bristled at a lot of what came hand in hand with EU membership. But her position was that it needed to be *re-negotiated*, not dumped…and certainly not voted out in a fit of faux-populist anger with no thought given to how an EU exit would actually work.

            Brexit is all about emotion. Thatcher would have had a field day with that.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      The EU “shoved immigration policy down their throats” by agreeing as a collective unit, of which Britain was a member, to allow free movement by EU citizens between EU countries. They agreed to this based on negotiations between EU countries debated extensively over years.

      By contrast, post-Brexit Britain will _actually_ have immigration policy shoved down its throat, as it will still be required to adhere to EU migration policies as a precondition for access to the EU market, but now as a non-member it will not have a seat at the table for determining what those policies are in the first place.

      Open wide, Brits.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Yep. Dumping the EU the way Britain did it was UNBELIEVABLY stupid.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        I think the British public reached a tipping point on the immigration issue, as the has the US public. I disagree that British politicians will be forced to open their borders. Time will tell. Trade is a two-way street. Many companies want access to the UK markets. Trade will continue where there is money to be made.

        • 0 avatar
          Astigmatism

          “Trade is a two-way street.”

          Let’s look at the traffic on that street.
          44% of UK exports go to other countries in the EU.
          8% of EU exports go to the UK.

          Guess who’s going to be in a better place to negotiate how that street works?

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Like I said, the proof will be forthcoming. The predicted doom has not occurred yet and my never occur. There are advantages and disadvantages to being independent. Let’s give it a few years.

        • 0 avatar
          ect

          thelaine, the basic problem with referenda is that they give people an opportunity to vent themselves in a special vote that doesn’t change the government, and often do so for reasons that have nothing to do with the official question on the ballot, but a lot to do with simply laying into politicians they don’t like.

          Brexit was a vote by the old and rural. The Remain side won handily among youth (who value the opportunities that the EU offers for them) and among the better-educated.

          It was a vote to permanently impoverisg the UK and deny opportunity to its youth. For this latter reason alone, it justifies the proposition that seniors (of which cadre I am one) should only be allowed to cast 1/2 a vote. The future doesn’t belong to us, and we should not be dictating to those it does belong to.

          Brexit presently looks like it will be a complete cluster…k. I hope otherwise, but I am not optomisitc.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        This has much to do with being forced to take refugees. The “open borders” contemplated by the signatories became something much different.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      theaine,
      There is no simplistic solution. You types crack me up. There are a multitude of reasons why the UK has the problems it has and it has little to do with immigration, just like the problems within the US aren’t Mexican and Chinese.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Al,

        Your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired. Who said anything about a solution? I analyzed why people voted for exit. It was loss of control of borders. It was the fault of the EU, for ignoring the desire of the people to control their borders. Perhaps you disagree. If so, you are wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          thelaine,
          I don’t really think so. It is the influential types who paint a simplistic view on how to remedy a country’s position.

          The reality is, people tend to blame others when in fact they are to blame for the position they find themselves in.

          This ranges from gun control to driving motor vehicles, to immigration.

          There is no simple fix. The only fix is for all within the UK to make changes to make the UK work.

          For all to benefit we must tolerate the upside and downside for everything.

          Trump, has this view that the US should only accept the upside to any decision made.

          The truth is the upside for the US, Australia, UK, Canada or anyone is a downside to another.

          This must be balanced.

          We all or most consider themselves not extreme, but if one looks at the arguments within our society you will find most sit on either side of the fence.

          This is why I believe Macron is what is needed in the West.

          We, the US, etc need a true party that represents the center, as this is where most people’s belief lies.

          There is no easy fix. Just having a simplistic view and generalising a remedy is incorrect. These types of people are the ones who want changes, but feel they are not the ones to make the changes.

          The US is full of people like this, like Australia the UK etc. If they weren’t the Brexit, Donald Trump, etc would not even have been considered.

          All must make America Great again or Australia or the UK.

          The other side of the coin is the UK and US (citizens) need to sit down and take stock of their real position and how much influence they can muster.

          The US by moving towards an isolating position globally is no different than the UK moving away from the EU. You will lose your influence and in the end you will have less control over what goes on within your borders as external forces will have a greater impact.

          Its about time people really understand how misplaced Nationalism is counter productive in creating a better, stronger, more progressive society.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            You have imputed to me arguments have have not advanced. You are speaking to yourself.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            thelaine,
            Not really, the arguments are not simple. Brexit is not simple. Australia’s problems are not simple, the US the same.

            Brexit will be painful for the Brits. There is even talk of vehicle manufacturers setting up shop in the EU and out of the UK.

            I do read a lot of simplistic generalising and solutions here on TTAC.

            My view is the Brits are going to lower their standards of living. If that is what they voted for then so be it.

            But, like Australia (Hanson, luckily didn’t do well) and the US (Trump) people voted as a protest with little or no knowledge on how a country functions.

            Even in the US you now have a President who doesn’t know how it all works, not even the laws of the land.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            You have yet to respond to my point Al. You are just robotically chewing your cud.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Something very similar happened in the US, Al, and it was also the fault of the left. They can blame themselves for Trump. Immigration was the spark that lit the fire and remained the single biggest reason people supported him. The second biggest reason was the beast the left party nominated to run against him. That was also their fault.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          thelaine,
          Not the left, the far left and far right are the problem.

          Politics have become you are with us or against us, whether it’s left or right.

          This is nonsense and McCain did the best thing and even stated “Both sides need to work together”.

          As you are seeing in the UK there is a chance Brexit will get voted out, which is what I hope occurs and Trump gets moved on, but Pence, he’s smarter than Trump and might make things worse.

  • avatar
    redapple

    THIS

  • avatar

    SMMT is right to be afraid… very afraid. Whatever the outcome, a trade deal can never be as good as the one the UK now has with the EU. Otherwise, why would the EU allow the UK the same arrangement if there’s no downside to leaving, no price to pay? What Brits seem to forget is that the UK is the asking party. That’s never a good bargaining position. Especially now that May’s mandate has shrunk. Also the prospect of luring away car makers from the UK to the continent should not be underestimated.

    • 0 avatar
      sutherland555

      The UK’s negotiating position is the equivalent of having both hands tied behind their back trying to fight off a mob. They’re going to get totally screwed in the negotiations.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        and they deserve to be screwed.

        The UK has NO entitlement to trade with the EU. This position was earnt. The same way the US has NO entitlement to any trade, this is earnt.

        The problem is many in our countries feel they have an entitlement place on the planet. The UK is no different.

        If the UK wants to compete is must compete as the rest of the world will not alter rules to suit them. The US is in a similar position.

        The current POTUS has a view that if the US states this is how trade will be, trade will be.

        The Nationalistic types are in for a real shock as they will find out the true position of their respective countries.


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