Some analysts forecast volatility in the UK car market as manufacturers adjust stocks and offerings due to WLTP

Some analysts forecast volatility in the UK car market as manufacturers adjust stocks and offerings due to WLTP

The UK's new car market turned in an impressive looking 23.1% rate of growth on last year's pace during the month of August, according to SMMT data. However, the SMMT also pointed out that the month of August is a low-volume month (second lowest in the year).

In the year so far, new car sales in the UK are 4.2% down on the same period of last year and on track to meet 2018 forecasts for a small decline.

Some 94,094 new cars were registered in the month as the market responded to regulatory changes, with cost-savvy buyers taking advantage of 'some compelling deals', the SMMT noted.

August demand was up across the board, with consumers and fleets boosting year-on-year registrations by 23.3% and 19.7% respectively, while the smaller business sector rose 166.4%, equivalent to an uplift of around 1,500 units against August last year. Superminis remained the most popular buy, followed by small family and dual purpose cars, with the luxury saloon and city car segments recording the most notable growth, up 120.8% and 39.6%.

Meanwhile, the UK's growing range of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric cars continued to attract buyers, with a record one in 12 people choosing one. Demand surged by a substantial 88.7%, with the sector accounting for 8.0% of the market – its highest ever level – as billions of pounds of manufacturer investment help deliver more ultra-low and zero emission models to the market.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "It's great to see such strong growth, particularly in the important electric vehicle market. However, given August is always a small month in new car registrations ahead of the important plate-change month of September, it would be wrong to view the market as booming.

"Indeed, this past month has seen some significant variances as regulatory changes have disrupted some supplies. In the long term, however, the new emissions certification test will give consumers renewed confidence in the performance of all vehicles, helping them choose the latest, cleanest technology that best suits their driving needs, whether that be petrol, diesel, hybrid or plug-in."

Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, noted that August's rise comes ahead of WLTP. "The UK new car market performed well in August, ahead of the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test (WLTP), with vehicle sales up 23.1%. However, the introduction of this new emissions regulation will give rise to a distorted market during the remainder of the year and into 2019 and, with diesel vehicles down 7.7%, NFDA continues to urge the government to clarify its position on diesel vehicles, particularly given the newer, more accurate testing coming into place."

The SMMT data shows that the market in August was led by VW (with a wafer-thin margin ahead of Ford; Ford is well ahead this year on a cumulative basis).

UK new car sales by brand - August 2018

Brand (ranked by Aug sales)Aug 18%shAug 17%sh%chYTD 18%shYTD 17%sh%ch
Volkswagen1125511.9669239.0662.5714140291290447.879.58
Ford1120811.91923412.0821.3817277710.9919448411.86-11.16
Audi75818.0663018.2420.311103047.021089166.641.27
BMW59986.3746076.0330.191083726.891063286.481.92
Vauxhall50785.466788.74-23.961148097.31306937.97-12.15
Mercedes-Benz48685.1747386.22.741076056.851149127.01-6.36
Suzuki43364.6117582.3146.64293191.87263661.6111.2
Peugeot39664.2126013.452.48545163.47550083.35-0.89
SEAT36243.8522322.9262.37452092.88358942.1925.95
Toyota36203.8527423.5932.02666514.246558041.63
Honda36123.8418862.4791.52369052.35349532.135.58
Kia35523.773060416.08624273.97608653.712.57
Skoda27722.9529183.82-5507153.23525073.2-3.41
Hyundai26892.8624413.1910.16596963.8587283.581.65
Nissan24802.6437104.85-33.15683734.35985816.01-30.64
Land Rover22022.3415121.9845.63474773.02524523.2-9.48
Renault18711.9918522.421.03397032.53462682.82-14.19
MINI18671.9815241.9922.51393432.5395192.41-0.45
Citroen17861.920542.69-13.05334642.13351092.14-4.69
Mazda15891.6912091.5831.43259921.65262471.6-0.97
Jaguar12421.325650.74119.82216281.38231551.41-6.59
Fiat10991.1712831.68-14.34233311.48319131.95-26.89
Volvo10591.137861.0334.73290451.85287091.751.17
Dacia8110.867691.015.46157941166161.01-4.95
Mitsubishi7810.834360.5779.13124250.79103870.6319.62
MG5860.621810.24223.7656850.3624790.15129.33
Porsche3470.372940.3818.0399790.6388990.5412.14
smart2770.293030.4-8.5846430.370590.43-34.23
Lexus2700.292050.2731.7179620.5174900.466.3
Other Imports2420.262640.35-8.3330630.1934990.21-12.46
Jeep2320.252070.2712.0840320.2644330.27-9.05
Abarth1870.21520.223.0335310.2227200.1729.82
Bentley1600.17750.1113.3312390.0811640.076.44
Alfa Romeo1550.161430.198.3929530.1931680.19-6.79
Subaru1000.11440.06127.2718390.1216080.114.37
Other British950.1190.024005340.034710.0313.38
DS880.093120.41-71.7942000.2759810.36-29.78
Aston Martin860.09210.03309.528960.0610870.07-17.57
Ssangyong620.071000.13-3818190.1225510.16-28.69
Maserati490.05530.07-7.558960.0611220.07-20.14
Infiniti440.052160.28-79.636230.0426880.16-76.82
McLaren400.0460.01566.674980.033270.0252.29
Lotus180.02150.02201630.012080.01-21.63
Total940941007643310023.1115719861001640241100-4.16

Source: SMMT

UK car market by sector, August 2018

TotalDieselPetrolAFVPrivateFleetBusiness
2018 94,09427,98658,6197,48941,43850,1572,499
201776,43330,30942,1563,96833,59741,898938
% change23.1-7.739.188.723.319.7166.4
Mkt share 201810029.762.38.044.053.32.7
Mkt share 201710039.755.25.244.054.81.2

Source: SMMT

UK car market by sector, Jan-Aug 2018

TotalDieselPetrolAFVPrivateFleetBusiness
2018 1,571,986508,901972,01691,069696,391819,31156,284
20171,640,241713,455855,28971,497718,922859,71461,605
% change-4.2-28.713.627.4-3.1-4.7-8.6
Mkt share 201810032.461.85.844.352.13.6
Mkt share 201710043.552.14.443.852.43.8

Source: SMMT

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

August 2018UnitsRankYTD (Jan-July)Units
1Ford Fiesta45221Ford Fiesta67189
2VW Golf41802VW Golf49692
3VW Polo32073Nissan Qashqai34910
4Ford Kuga19024Ford Focus34045
5BMW 3 Series18475Vauxhall Corsa32821
6SEAT Leon15066VW Polo29081
7Honda Jazz14907MINI26945
8Suzuki Swift13908Ford Kuga26462
9Nissan Qashqai13749Mercedes A-Class23795
10Kia Sportage132110Mercedes C-Class22783

Source: SMMT

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