May was another good sales month for Volkswagen in the UK, with the latest 6th gen Polo now making its market impact

May was another good sales month for Volkswagen in the UK, with the latest 6th gen Polo now making its market impact

The UK new car market grew by a modest 3.4% in May with 192,649 new units registered, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Last month's growth is against a weak May in 2017 (the market was 8.5% down in that month, against the previous year) when UK demand was impacted by the dual effects of VED pull-forward and buyer hesitancy ahead of June 2017's general election.

Private demand in the month grew by 10.1%, with more than 83,000 consumers driving home in a new car, and offsetting ongoing declines in the business and fleet sectors, down 9.6% and 0.7% respectively. The most popular segments were supermini (up 6.0%), small family (up 1.6%) and dual purpose (up 19.2%), while demand for specialist sports cars also rose, by 12.7%. In addition, the hottest May on record saw a surge in demand for convertibles as drop tops rose 11.7% year on year.

There was some good news for the alternatively fuelled vehicle segment, as demand for hybrid and plug-in cars grew by 36.1% to 11,240 units, accounting for a record 5.8% of the market. Plug-in hybrid cars were the biggest driver of growth, up 72.7%, while hybrids rose 22.6% and zero emission battery electrics grew 18.7%. Registrations of petrol cars also increased, by 23.5%, while diesels fell for the 14th consecutive month, down 23.6%.

In the year to date, the overall market remains down, with new registrations having fallen 6.8%, as economic and political uncertainty continues to impact demand. Business and fleet confidence, in particular, continues to lag, down 16.2% and 7.1% respectively, while demand from private buyers in the first five months is 5.7% behind 2017 levels.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "May's growth, albeit on the back of large declines last year, is encouraging and suggests the market is now starting to return to a more natural running rate. To ensure long-term stability, we need to avoid any further disruption to the market, and this will require sustainable policies that give consumers and businesses the confidence to invest in the new cars that best suit their needs.

"Fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality and reduce CO2, and this applies to hybrid and plug-in technologies as well as the latest low emission petrol and diesels which, for many drivers, remain the right choice economically and environmentally."

UK car market by sector, May 2018

TotalDieselPetrolAFVPrivateFleetBusiness
2018 192,64962,260119,14911,24083,682103,4905,477
2017186,26581,50096,5078,25876,035104,1736,057
% change3.4-23.623.536.110.1-0.7-9.6
Mkt share 201810032.361.85.843.453.72.9
Mkt share 201710043.851.84.440.855.93.3

Source: SMMT

UK car market by sector, Jan-May 2018

TotalDieselPetrolAFVPrivateFleetBusiness
2018 1,079,049354,251667,50057,298492,570547,63738,842
20171,158,357510,421599,99947,937522,344589,68246,311
% change-6.8-30.611.319.5-5.7-7.1-16.2
Mkt share 201810032.861.95.345.650.83.6
Mkt share 201710044.151.84.145.150.94.0

Source: SMMT

UK car market by brand, May 2018 and YTD

May 18shareMay 17share%chYTD 18shareYTD 17share%ch
Abarth6120.323410.1879.4724970.2318550.1634.61
Alfa Romeo3550.182690.1431.9721170.222530.19-6.04
Aston Martin1280.071480.08-13.515710.058700.08-34.37
Audi136877.1137647.39-0.56747376.93746386.440.13
Bentley870.051150.06-24.356040.068000.07-24.5
BMW129406.72127316.831.64694116.43734896.34-5.55
Citroen44082.2940282.169.43231032.14251642.17-8.19
Dacia25161.3119391.0429.76116171.081154210.65
DS5470.286470.35-15.4631840.342740.37-25.5
Fiat26231.3640752.19-35.63163331.51236332.04-30.89
Ford2113610.972051411.013.0312320711.4214122112.19-12.76
Honda38251.9933971.8212.6250512.32241842.093.59
Hyundai73873.8373213.930.9423783.93421353.640.58
Infiniti690.043460.19-80.064540.0417490.15-74.04
Jaguar30691.5925641.3819.7151921.41174301.5-12.84
Jeep6520.343030.16115.1828570.2634290.3-16.68
Kia67213.4966823.590.58423443.92426783.68-0.78
Land Rover65663.4156193.0216.85354083.28394743.41-10.3
Lexus8510.447150.3819.0256020.5252810.466.08
Maserati830.041070.06-22.436220.068560.07-27.34
Mazda24081.2524471.31-1.59182531.69193061.67-5.45
McLaren850.04620.0337.13530.032080.0269.71
Mercedes-Benz133876.95146607.87-8.68764147.08828427.15-7.76
MG8110.423950.21105.3234150.3216790.14103.39
MINI50942.6449722.672.45259492.4259732.24-0.09
Mitsubishi14000.7311420.6122.5985860.875550.6513.65
Nissan86994.52106275.71-18.14509414.72720186.22-29.27
Peugeot63353.2960603.254.54372033.45398583.44-6.66
Porsche19911.0312780.6955.7977110.7162550.5423.28
Renault49642.5843082.3115.23290302.69335082.89-13.36
SEAT56742.9538822.0846.16293792.72245902.1219.48
Skoda63373.2967133.6-5.6341643.17350463.03-2.52
smart6360.339240.5-31.1731980.351060.44-37.37
Ssangyong2500.132730.15-8.4212660.1219140.17-33.86
Subaru2310.121550.0849.0313620.1312100.112.56
Suzuki31171.6227221.4614.51165611.53183311.58-9.66
Toyota67743.5267203.610.8467024.33468724.05-0.36
Vauxhall139837.26140417.54-0.41797327.39915067.9-12.87
Volkswagen180979.39156568.4115.59901628.36853887.375.59
Volvo36211.8831841.7113.72190601.77195011.68-2.26
Other British950.05510.0386.273300.032960.0311.49
Other Imports3720.193620.192.7618510.1722860.2-19.03
Total1926491001862651003.4310790491001158357100-6.85

Source: SMMT

UK car market, top selling models (May 2018 and YTD)

May 2018UnitsRankYTD (Jan-May)Units
1Ford Fiesta68961Ford Fiesta47515
2 Ford Focus65732VW Golf33057
3VW Golf63723Nissan Qashqai26127
4Nissan Qashqai49564Ford Focus25917
5VW Polo39615Vauxhall Corsa21927
6Vauxhall Corsa39326Ford Kuga18570
7MINI35057MINI17802
8Mercedes C-Class29558Mercedes A-Class17788
9Mercedes A-Class29399VW Polo16533
10Audi A3279110Mercedes C-Class16414

Source: SMMT