* See the Top 42 brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *
It’s a second consecutive year-on-year gain in May for UK new car sales at +3.4% to 192.649 units. Far from an indication of market recovery, this growth is, like last month, a rebalancing of sales following May 2017 down a sharp 8.5% as sales had been pulled forward to March due to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) changes. The good news is private sales are solely responsible for this month’s uplift at a solid +10.1% to 83.682 and 43.4% share vs. 40.8% a year ago. In contrast, business sales are down a steep 9.6% to 6.057 and 2.8% share vs. 3.3% and fleet sales drop 0.7% to 103.490 and 53.7% share vs. 55.9%. A better indication of the market’s ill health this year is the YTD tally down 6.8% to 1.079.049 with private sales down 5.7% to 492.570, fleet sales down 7.1% to 547.637 and business aales down 16.2% to 38.842. Petrol cars deliveries continue to rise at +23.5% to 119.149 and 61.8% in May, 10 percentage points above its level of May 2017, whereas diesel sales endure a 14th consecutive month of decline at -23.6% to 62.260 and 32.3% share vs. 43.8% a year ago. Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles leap up 36.1% to 11.240 with plug-in hybrids up 72.7%, hybrids up 22.6% and pure electrics up 18.7%.
Ford retains the lead of the brands ranking, following the market at +3% but posting weak 11% market share, below its YTD level of 11.4% (-13%). In contrast Volkswagen continues to stand out with deliveries up 16% this month to 9.4% share, by far the largest gain in the Top 10 and one percentage point above its YTD level. Vauxhall (-0.4%) manages to climb back up to #3 despite a soft decline, painstakingly outselling all three premium Germans Audi (-1%), Mercedes (-9% but placing both the A-Class and C-Class in the May Top 9) and BMW (+2%). Nissan (-18%) is hit hard but remains at #7 above Hyundai, Toyota and Kia all up 1%. Further down, Seat (+46%), Land Rover (+17%), Renault (+15%), Suzuki (+15%), Volvo (+14%) and Honda (+13%) are the other double-digit gainers in the Top 20 while among smaller brands Lotus (+900%), Jeep (+115%), MG (+105%), Abarth (+79%), Porsche (+56%), Subaru (+49%), McLaren (+37%), Alfa Romeo (+32%), Dacia (+30%), Mitsubishi (+23%) and Jaguar (+20%) all impress.
Over in the models ranking, after a 58% surge in April, the Ford Fiesta falls back to earth in May at -9% to just 3.6% share, its lowest so far in 2018, but remains in pole position. Deliveries of the fourth generation won’t start until August – with the Vignale high-end trim coming in October and the Active crossover-styled in January 2019, but demo sales combined with heavy discounts on the outgoing third gen propel the Ford Focus up by a whopping 48% year-on-year to hit its highest UK ranking since last July at #2. The Focus therefore puts an end to a record 12 consecutive months at either #1 or #2 by the VW Golf, knocked down to #3 in May even though it is up a very solid 17%. The Nissan Qashqai is also down one rank to #4 and is now threatened by the Focus for the #3 spot YTD with a gap thawing to just 210 units vs. 1.827 last month. Thanks to the new generation, the VW Polo posts a 2nd connective month in the Top 5 but surprisingly drops 7% year-on-year. The Mini (-1%) is back inside the Top 10 as is the Audi A3 for the first time since last October.
Previous month: UK April 2018: Market rebounds 10.4% on weak year-ago base
One year ago: UK May 2017: Volkswagen #2 brand in market down 8.5%
Full May 2018 Top 42 brands and Top 10 models below.