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New car sales chaos as big names struggle

More sales chaos as manufacturers are unable to supply some of the country's most popular new cars

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New car sales are ending 2021 in chaos, with manufacturers simply unable to supply some of the country’s most popular new cars – with fleet registrations diving sharply.

Overall new car registrations for November were actually up by just under 2% compared to the same month last year, but that number is not really relevant due to last year’s Covid lockdowns that affected November and December results.

Private new car sales were actually up considerably on last November – by 42% – but fleet registrations (traditionally the larger buying group) were down 25%. This, combined with desperate vehicle shortages, also affected the sales results for many manufacturers.

On the plus side, it was the first time in a very long time that a British-built car sat atop the sales charts, so every cloud…

Source: SMMT

Another record month for electric – and electrified – cars in terms of market share, while diesel cars slid to yet another new low. For the first time, diesel’s market share fell below 10% while EVs were at 19% and plug in hybrids just over 9%.

Although diesels will still outsell pure EVs for the full year, it will be fairly close. And the inevitable trajectory of the market over the next few years will see petrol cars start to fall in the same fashion. Petrol cars took 54% of the November market – down from 60% a year ago, and this pattern will continue.

Source: SMMT

Good month, bad month, shocking month

Let’s start with shocking: Ford was only the ninth-best-selling brand in April, and managed to shift only 101 Fiestas in the whole month. Given that Ford has something like 300 dealers in the UK, that’s nothing short of a disaster. Ford’s other big-selling model, the Fiesta-based Puma, only added 126 registrations for the month as well. In a market that was up just under 2% year-on-year, Ford was down more than 50%.

On the positive side, it did manage to shift more than 2,500 Focuses to keep the former family star in the top ten for another month.

It was champagne all round for BMW, which was the UK’s biggest-selling brand in November, ahead of Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Vauxhall. Curiously, though, all five of those brands actually lost market share compared to 12 months ago.

Overall, it was a good month for Alpine, Bentley, Citroën, Dacia, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Hyundai, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, MG, Mini, Peugeot, Polestar, Smart, SsangYong, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota, who all enjoyed sales growth at least 10% better than the overall market.

Meanwhile, sales were down at Abarth, Audi (despite ranking third in market share), Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Jeep, Land Rover, Lexus, Nissan, Porsche, SEAT, Skoda, Vauxhall and Volkswagen (despite ranking second in market share). All recorded results at least 10% worse than the overall market.

Expect another month of bizarre results to close out a bizarre year in December.

Mini to the max as big names fall

The venerable Mini hatch – which is one of the oldest new cars on sale, despite a couple of facelifts – topped the sales charts in November. It was comfortably clear of the 2021 champion-elect, the Vauxhall Corsa, which has now extended its sales lead to nearly 9,000 units as its rivals’s challenges collapsed.

It was also the first time in a very long time that a car built in Britain was the country’s top-selling car (although not the top-selling vehicle, as that was the Ford Transit Custom van…).

Souce: SMMT

With a month to go, the Mercedes A-Class has jumped up to second place in the sales charts, despite a fairly poor November performance. But it was helped by the Volkswagen Polo and Golf, Ford Fiesta and Puma, and Kia Sportage all having even worse months.

The Tesla Model 3 reappeared in third place, while the new Hyundai Tucson continued its strong honeymoon period and the MG ZS made a surprise debut in sixth place.

We’ll have our usual monthly analysis of the top ten in coming days.

The latest from The Car Expert

Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.