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UK August 2018: Pre-WLTP push has VW #1 brand for 3rd month in a row

The VW Polo (+75%) holds onto a record third place in the UK in August.

* See the Top 43 brands and Top 10 models by clicking on the title *

The UK market enjoys a 4th positive month in the past five in August with registrations up a whopping 23.1% year-on-year during the second smallest month of the year at 94.094 units. Albeit remaining at low levels, this is the largest August score in the UK in at least 17 years (see table below). This encouraging result does not mean the UK market is back on track however, as it was artificially inflated by pre-WLTO stock clearances as we have observed in every European Union market so far this month. The year-to-date tally is now down 4.2% to 1.571.986. Private sales match the market at +23.3% to 41.438 to remain at 44% share, fleet sales are up 19.7% to 50.157 and 53.3% share vs. 54.8% a year ago and business sales surge 166.4% to 2.499 and 2.7% share vs. 1.2%.

August sales 2002-2017. Source SMMT

Year-to-date, private sales once again behave the best at -3.1% to 696.391 units and 52.1% share vs. 52.4% over the same period in 2017, fleet sales are down 4.7% to 819.311 and 52.1% vs 52.4% and business sales sink 8.6% to 56.284 and 3.6% share vs. 3.8%. Sales by alimentation show a curbing of the diesel decline at just -7.7% in August to 27.986 and 29.7% share vs. 39.7% while petrol sales soar 39.1% to 58.619 and 62.3% share vs. 55.2% and alternatively fuelled vehicles surge 88.7% to 7.489 and an all-time record 8% share vs. 5.2% in August 2017. Year-to-date, the diesel freefall is more obvious at -28.7% to 508.901 and 32.4% of the market vs. 43.5% a year ago while petrol sales gai 13.6% to 972.016 and 61.8% share vs. 52.1% and AFVs are up 27.4% to 91.069 and 5.8% share vs. 4.4%

The Ford Kuga (#4) breaks its all-time ranking record in the UK in August…

In the brands ranking, what would have been deemed totally impossible only a few months back is slowly but surely unfolding before our eyes: without a doubt “helped” by pre-WLTP stock clearances, Volkswagen (+63%) is the most popular carmaker in the UK for the third consecutive month and in history. Yes you have read well, before last June Volkswagen had never topped the UK monthly sales charts at any point in time since the launch of the brand in the country shortly after World War II. Granted, the German carmaker’s advantage over traditional leader Ford (+21%) is minuscule in August (47 sales) but the performance remains historical (/hysterical?). September figures, traditionally one of the two largest months of the year due to new license plates, will show us what the UK market truly looks like with WLTP-related disturbances out of the way.

…as is the Seat Leon (#6)…

Audi (+20%) remains in third place followed by BMW (+30%) up two spots to #4, both manufacturer leapfrogging Mercedes (+3%) in the YTD order to now place #4 and #5 respectively. Vauxhall (-24%) has another hellish month and can’t place any nameplate in the Top 10 for the third time in the past 10 months – and potentially ever – after October 2017 and November 2017. Pre-WLTP stock clearances push Suzuki (+147%) up to an all-time record 7th place, Seat (+62%) up to a record 8th position, Honda (+92%) up to its highest level this decade at #11, with McLaren (+567%), Aston Martin (+310%), MG (+224%), Subaru (+127%), Jaguar (+120%), Bentley (+113%), Mitsubishi (+79%), Peugeot (+52%), Land Rover (+46%), Volvo (+35%) and Lexus (+32%) also taking off.

…the Honda Jazz (#7)…

True to form and helped by small volumes favourable to fragmentation, the August UK models ranking is – let’s not beat around the bush – a volatile and artificial mess. The podium however is unchanged on last month: the Ford Fiesta (+104%) is the best-seller above the VW Golf (+83%) and Polo (+75%), meaning Volkswagen places two nameplates on the UK monthly podium for the second month running and ever, and the Polo scores a second consecutive ranking record. The Ford Kuga (+8%) is up four spots on July to break its ranking record at #4, beating the #5 it hit last February. The BMW 3 Series soars to 5th overall, its highest placing in over 6 years (since June 2012). In 6th place, the Seat Leon manages its first ever Top 10 finish in the UK – also the first Seat doing so, while the Suzuki Swift at #8 is the first Suzuki to crack the monthly UK Top 10 according to BSCB records.

…and the Suzuki Swift (#8). All pictures autocar.co.uk

The last anomaly is the 7th place of the Honda Jazz, here too a new all-the record and the nameplate’s first appearance in the UK Top 10 in almost 7 years, its 5th in total after Aug 2006 (#9), Jan 2009 (#9), Feb 2009 (#8) and Oct 2011 (#10). Note the Jazz is the 2nd Honda to have ever cracked the monthly Top 10 alongside the Civic, #9 in April 2006, #9 in Sept 2007 and #8 in March 2008. Finally, note the absence from the Top 10 of the Ford Focus (-43%) for the 2nd straight month and 2nd time since the nameplate launched in 1998. In fact the only times the Focus dropped outside the Top 5 in the past 20 years were in October 2016 and June 2018 when it ranked #6. Deliveries of the new generation, supposed to have kicked in this month, haven’t helped yet.

Previous month: UK July 2018: Volkswagen #1 brand for the 2nd month in a row – and in history

One year ago: UK August 2017: Golf #1, Mokka X and Kuga break records

Full August 2018 Top 43 brands and Top 10 models below.

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