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Tesla charges to top place in December new car sales

New car sales finished the year on a higher note, thanks to strong fleet registrations. For consumer new car sales, it was a relatively poor month – albeit with a few bright spots.

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New car sales finished the year on a higher note, thanks to strong fleet registrations. For consumer new car sales, it was a relatively poor month – albeit with a few bright spots.

According to the December and full-year data published this morning by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), private new car sales were down 7% on the same month last year. This is a continuation of an overall sales slowdown for consumer new car sales over the last six months.

By comparison, fleet registrations were up 43% compared to last December, continuing a very strong performance over the last half of the year.

Looking at the full year’s results, the overall market ended up down slightly on last year at just over 1.6 million cars registered. Somewhat surprisingly, the annual numbers have been pretty flat for the last three years despite wild fluctations on an almost monthly basis since the Covid pandemic begain in early 2020.

Source: SMMT

Tesla again skews EV data with another massive month

A couple of months ago, several media analysts were moaning that electric car sales had ‘stalled’ and suggested there was a crisis brewing after a relatively poor month in October. Today’s data shows EV sales at an all-time high in December and a record market share of one-in-three new cars. In reality, both the peaks and troughs are misleading thanks to the fact that the UK’s largest EV brand, Tesla, operates completely differently from every other car company.

Tesla registered more than 16,000 new cars in December, which made it comfortably the best-selling car brand for the month. Yet in October, it only registered 11 cars. No, that’s not a typo. This enormous fluctuation from the EV market leader means that EV market share swings wildly on a month-by-month basis.

Looking at the 2022 full-year results, it was a record year for new EV sales. Electric vehicles made up 17% of the new car market, up from 12% in 2021 and 7% in 2020. Plug-in hybrid sales have slid backwards compared to 2021, as we’ve been reporting all year, with customers appearing to have abandoned the halfway-house idea in favour of either switching to a fully-electric car or sticking with a petrol one.

Diesel now makes up less than 10% of the new car market – and would be even less if there were better options available for large posh SUVs – while petrol is still the largest fuel source but slightly down on last year.

Source: SMMT

Good month, bad month

As mentioned, Tesla topped the charts in December despite only having two models available. Volkswagen was second for December but ended up on top for the full year, while BMW beat Audi to third place in December but the positions were reversed for the full year.

Relative to the overall market’s result for December, it was a good month for Alpine, BMW, Cupra, Ford, Genesis, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, MG, Polestar, Porsche, Renault, SEAT, Tesla and Volkswagen. All of these brands outperformed the overall market by at least 10%.

Meanwhile, things were not so rosy for Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Citroën, Dacia, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Peugeot, Smart, SsangYong, Subaru and Vauxhall. All of these brands underperformed against the overall market by at least 10%.

Big month for Tesla but Nissan Qashqai takes the crown

As with last year, Tesla topped the charts in the last month of the year with a record-breaking month for the Model Y – more than 10,000 registrations in a single month is unheard of – while the Model 3 was runner-up.

For the overall year, though, the Nissan Qashqai has taken the crown as the UK’s best-selling new car. It’s the first time since 1998, some 24 years ago, that a British-built car has been the country’s most popular new vehicle.

In a bonus for both Nissan and its Sunderland workforce, the Leaf electric vehicle also made a surprising appearance in the top ten for December.

The Vauxhall Corsa clung on to second place in the 2022 sales race, despite tanking in the last few months as Vauxhall presumably struggled with supply problems, to edge out the Tesla Model Y which sold almost a third of its annual vehicles in December alone!

Small vehicles had a good result in December, with the Mini hatch, Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta all featuring in the top ten, while smallish SUVs like the Volvo XC40 and Ford Puma also did well.

Source: SMMT

We’ll have a full round-up of the UK’s best-selling cars in coming days, as well as a more detailed analysis of the 2022 results for each brand.

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.