The final numbers for the 2013 UK car market show a growth in the overall market to more than 2.25 million, a rise of more than 10 per cent.
The two factors that traditionally drive the growth in car sales – house prices and unemployment figures – were both positive last year and there was an additional one-off boost from the Payment Protection Insurance compensation. The latter factor will not be repeated in 2014 (unless the banks are forced to payout for yet another scandal), so the market is likely to stay flat in 2014.
Within the market, the big trend was fragmentation. The two biggest segments (superminis and small family cars) both grew at about the same rate as the whole market with growth of 12%, but some of the smaller segments grew much faster – both city cars (up 16%) and SUVs (up 19%) grew rapidly, while the traditional upper medium car really suffered (down 28%). It may be that in a couple of years, Ford’s principal large family car will actually be the Kuga, not the Mondeo.
The other form of fragmentation was the growth of both premium brands and value brands. For example, Audi and Skoda both had excellent years, but mainstream brands simply fought to maintain their share as best they could. What the premium and the value brands have in common is that they clearly stand for something – one is for prestige and the other is for value. The problem for mid-market brands is carving out a similarly clear identity.
Some have managed it – for example, Ford is identified with driving dynamics - but many have no strong image at a manufacturer level, having to rely on the strengths of individual models instead.
Read through the list below to see just how each manufacturer fared, and whether its market share grew or shrunk.
Alfa Romeo (Down: 2012 = 0.35 per cent; 2013 = 0.25 per cent)
Talk of selling 30,000 cars a year in the UK is long gone: sales are now below 6,000. The 4C will be a wonderful halo car – it’s just a shame there is nothing to bask in the light it will generate.
Aston Martin (Down: 2012 = 0.05 per cent; 2013 = 0.04 per cent)
The new investor has a lot of work to do – market share has halved since 2007. The technology tie-up with AMG will be critical: Aston is simply not big enough to generate the R&D budget it requires.
Audi (Up: 2012 = 6.05 per cent; 2013 = 6.27 per cent)
Likely to finish 2013 as the UK’s fourth largest brand. The key-fob du jour, as Audis are now seen as the coolest premium brand, if not always the best to drive.
Bentley (Down: 2012 = 0.06 per cent; 2013 = 0.05 per cent)
Sales are stable – but at a lower level than before the crash, when Continental GTs were ubiquitous and market share was around 0.08 per cent.
BMW (Down: 2012 = 6.24 per cent; 2013 = 5.99 per cent)
A quiet year by BMW’s standards, but still on target to sell over 130,000 cars a year. It has been overtaken by Audi, because Audi has the B-segment A1, and BMW leaves that segment to Mini.
Chevrolet (Down: 2012 = 0.66 per cent; 2013 = 0.53 per cent)
The emerging brand that stubbornly refused to emerge. With sales around one sixth of Hyundai or Kia’s levels, GM decided it was time to pull the plug.
Chrysler (Down: 2012 = 0.16 per cent; 2013 = 0.11 per cent)
The “rebadged Lancia” strategy has failed utterly. If the Jeep division can be turned around, will Chrysler be quietly dropped from the UK?