As a year of strong UK sales draws to a close, David Francis delivers his end-of-term report on who did what
11 January 2015

The UK market exceeded 2.4 million new cars in 2014, so demand is back where it was before the recession, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturing Traders

However, incomes are not, so how do we afford all these cars? Firstly, very few people buy cars nowadays — about 70 per cent of retail buyers use PCPs, which generally offer lower monthly costs than buying a three-year-old car.

Secondly, the UK is one of the few European countries where people can be incentivised to take a new car, so marketing money has been flooding here. As a result, it is hard to see the market rising further in 2015.

Mathematically adept readers will note that the percentages listed below add up to a total of 99.71 per cent.

The principal manufacturers not covered here are Abarth (0.07 per cent), Chevrolet (0.12 per cent) and what the statistics describe as ‘Other British’ — namely, some of our specialist sports car manufacturers (0.03 per cent).

The balance is made up of Lamborghini, Morgan, Perodua, Proton, French microcars — and three Saabs.

Alfa Romeo 

2014 market share: 0.22 per cent (down from 0.25 per cent in 2013)

As with certain religious cults, the second coming has been subject to delay. An all-new range is on the way, but the biggest threat is that Alfa is now so small that the public won’t actually notice.

Audi

2014 market share: 6.54 per cent (up from 6.37 per cent)

Most of Audi’s growth in the UK this year has come from the A3. Even though the company’s biggest seller has moved down a class, from the compact executive A4 to the smaller A3 hatchback, there is no sign of Audi’s brand image becoming any less aspirational.

Bentley

2014 market share: 0.06 per cent (up from 0.05 per cent)

Market share is on the rise again, but the best news is that Bentley has been chosen as the Volkswagen Group’s global centre of excellence for the W12 engine — a vote of confidence by its parent.

BMW

2014 market share: 5.91 per cent (up from 5.88 per cent)

Market share has stabilised over the past couple of years because BMW has now occupied virtually every niche. Growth is more likely to come from its Mini brand.

Citroën

2014 market share: 3.39 per cent (down from 3.53 per cent)

The DS3 continues to do great business (over a quarter of all Citroën sales), but larger DS models are failing to capitalise on the DS3’s success. However, the C4 Cactus has started well.

Dacia

2014 market share: 0.97 per cent (up from 0.71 per cent)

Now that Hyundai, Kia and Skoda have become near-mainstream marques, there is a gap for a genuine economy brand that makes a decent product — a gap that Dacia has filled brilliantly.

Ferrari

2014 market share: 0.03 per cent (unchanged)

Ferrari has been restricting production in recent years to maintain exclusivity. However, the partial flotation in 2015 could change the focus to selling more cars; a 40 per cent rise has been rumoured.

Fiat

2014 market share: 2.73 per cent (up from 2.66 per cent)

The ‘500 car company’; more than 85 per cent of UK sales come from the 500/Panda and the 500L. They sell well, but no one has tried to run a volume car company on such a narrow range since the VW Beetle.

Ford

2014 market share: 13.25 per cent (down from 13.80 per cent)

Ford must feel like a garrison holding on to the fort of UK market leadership. So far, it is largely repelling the attacks, helped by the dominance of the Fiesta, which is the clear supermini leader.

Honda

2014 market share: 2.17 per cent (down from 2.65 per cent)

Sales have been hammered by the dismal CO2 ratings of its petrol engine; there is no petrol-engined Honda below 129g/km. Even the hybrid Jazz produces 104g/km.

Hyundai

2014 market share: 3.35 per cent (down from 3.42 per cent)

Hyundai prospered by selling better build quality at lower prices, but its ambition is to become mainstream (or even slightly above) and that requires products that sell on desirability, not cost.

Infiniti

2014 market share: 0.03 per cent (up from 0.02 per cent)

Nissan considered closing Infiniti a couple of years ago. It makes sense in the US, but selling ‘Japanese premium’ to Europe is up there with selling sand to Saudi Arabia.

Jaguar

2014 market share: 0.74 per cent (up from 0.72 per cent)

Jaguar’s 2014 results are barely relevant. The future of the company depends on what happens with the XE in 2015.

Jeep

2014 market share: 0.16 per cent (up from 0.10 per cent)

The new Cherokee should have signalled a fresh start. Instead, it demonstrates the same old problem: the company’s wonky self-image (world’s leading off-road brand) results in overly optimistic UK prices.

Kia

2014 market share: 3.19 per cent (down from 3.23 per cent)

Now a respected part of the automotive landscape. The new task for Kia is to establish a separate identity. It seems that Hyundai will try to be more ‘establishment’ and Kia will be more sporty.

Land Rover

2014 market share: 2.27 per cent (down from 2.45 per cent)

It runs its factories flat out and still can’t meet demand. The new Discovery Sport should maintain that happy situation during the coming year.

Lexus

2014 market share: 0.47 per cent (up from 0.40 per cent)

Lexus is like the boy at school whom everyone quite likes but no one fancies. As a ‘challenger brand’, it needs to offer something that the established brands do not — and hybrids do not appear to fit the bill.

Lotus

2014 market share: 0.01 per cent (unchanged)

Sales are beginning to rise and the plan for next year is better quality, lower costs and clever evolutions of the current range. All-new models will have to wait until the current models start turning a profit.

Maserati

2014 market share: 0.05 per cent (up from 0.01 per cent)

Maserati sold more cars in the UK in 2014 than in all of the 80 years before Fiat bought the company. The plan is to increase UK sales to around 5000 per year by 2018 — about what Alfa sells now.

Mazda

2014 market share: 1.56 per cent (up from 1.41 per cent)

Mazda is a real comeback story, thanks to the falling yen and new models. It wants to get back to the two per cent share that it once had — and it is getting steadily closer.

Mercedes-Benz

2014 market share: 5.05 per cent (up from 4.87 per cent)

Mercedes wants to overtake BMW. However, as with motor racing, catching up is easier than getting past. Mercedes has now filled the gaps in its range, so further gains are going to be harder to find.

MG

2014 market share: 0.10 per cent (up from 0.02 per cent)

At least sales are now measurable. However, it will be an uphill struggle to get buyers to consider this largely forgotten brand.

Mitsubishi

2014 market share: 0.63 per cent (up from 0.39 per cent)

Considering the somewhat random collection of models that it offers, Mitsubishi is doing remarkably well. In October it managed to outsell Honda across Europe.

Nissan

2014 market share: 5.61 per cent (up from 5.25 per cent)

Nissan is now in a different sales league from other Japanese brands. That is good news for the UK, because so many of its cars are made here. In 2013 Sunderland made more cars than the whole of Italy.

Peugeot

2014 market share: 4.24 per cent (down from 4.70 per cent)

The hoped-for recovery with the 208 and 308 has stalled. It might be that, with increased competition, Peugeot’s natural level is now four to five per cent rather than the eight per cent achieved in the days of the 206.

Porsche 

2014 market share: 0.36 per cent (up from 0.35per cent)

Porsche is hoping that the Macan will prove to be its Evoque, and the early signs are encouraging. It will not be long before Porsche is selling 10,000 cars a year in the UK.

Renault

2014 market share: 2.65 per cent (up from 1.93 per cent)

The good news is that the new Clio and Captur have boosted sales considerably. The bad news is that Renault is still behind Skoda and Fiat, so its forthcoming Qashqai equivalent still has lots to do.

Rolls-Royce

2014 market share: 0.02 per cent (up from 0.01 per cent)

As expected, sales have risen in 2014 with the arrival of new models. The progress of the company is almost as stately as that of the cars.

Seat

2014 market share: 2.15 per cent (up from 1.97 per cent)

Seat is off the critical list as sales of the Volkswagen Group-owned brand improve steadily. However, there is still no clear answer to the question: “What is Seat for?”

Skoda

2014 market share: 3.07 per cent  (up from 2.88 per cent)

This is the ‘Waitrose Essentials’ of the car world, which is not a bad place to be. Skoda is especially strong in sensible estates, providing the 21st century’s equivalent of the Volvo 240/740.

Smart

2014 market share: 0.19 per cent (down from 0.24 per cent)

Given its cost-to-benefit ratio, the Fortwo is always going to be a minority interest, so any major sales growth can only come from the larger Forfour. Time will tell if it can compete with the Fiat 500 as a trendy city car.

SsangYong 

2014 market share: 0.06 per cent (up from 0.03 per cent)

The Dacia Duster outsells the SsangYong Korando five to one, partly because Romania is a much lower-cost place in which to produce cars than South Korea. It is not easy to see how SsangYong can ever get to critical mass.

Subaru

2014 market share: 0.11 per cent (up from 0.10 per cent)

Since 2009, Subaru sales in the US have increased by an average of 4000 cars every month. That is more than its total annual sales in the UK. Subaru answers a question that  almost no one in Britain asks.

Suzuki 

2014 market share: 1.53 per cent (up from 1.46 per cent)

The little company with big plans. It wants to get to nearly two per cent of the UK market with a strategy of developing a sensible and a fun model for each of its segments. (Think Nissan Pulsar/Qashqai.)

Toyota

2014 market share: 3.82 per cent (down from 3.96 per cent)

The GT86 drifts beautifully, but the rest of the range just drifts. Toyota promises more emotionally appealing cars, but the somnolent Avensis and Auris sum up the scale of its task.

Vauxhall

2014 market share: 10.65 per cent (down from 11.28 per cent)

Talk of overtaking Ford seems to have been dropped. Hopes are now pinned on the Corsa narrowing the gap to the Fiesta, while niche models such as the Mokka and Adam improve the perception of the brand.

Volkswagen 

2014 market share: 8.67 per cent (up from 8.54 per cent)

Market share is stable, but it is the stability of a mountain; the  Volkswagen Group has a market share of more than 25 per cent across Europe, giving huge economies of scale.

Volvo

2014 market share: 1.66 per cent (up from 1.43 per cent)

The first green shoots of recovery after 25 years of decline? Its task is to maintain momentum with the new XC90.

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Comments
6

11 January 2015
Why does Autocar (and Top Gear) find it so difficult to say anything nice about SEAT.
The marque has sold over 53,000 cars in the UK this year - a record.
Why pick on SEAT, what's any marque for?

11 January 2015
Autocar wrote:

...there is still no clear answer to the question: “What is Seat for?”

Totally agree and just who is asking that question?

AV

11 January 2015
Mitsubishi's significant sales growth across Europe is due to the Outlander PHEV.
Others have noticed even if you have not.
BMW is one. They are basing a whole generation of new models on the same layout.

11 January 2015
I have to say there are a lot of crap comments in that piece, and a lot of language that looks like it has been cut and pasted from a foriegn news report.

its seems that no matter what some companies do, increasing sales, more market share, better residuals etc, this "rag" likes to put them all down, it seems like AUTOCAR is turning into "THE SUN", more drivel, less news.

11 January 2015
.....of several car companies judging by this article. Whilst I'm not a fan of the dated styling and high running costs, I'm sure Subaru has a loyal following among the farming/rural community who value reliability, robustness and the go-anywhere safety of 4-wheel drive that the company excels at. As for SEAT, I know VW have managed this arm of their massive organisation extremely poorly (witness the dismal reputation of their dealers and limited range when compared to Skoda), but the Ibiza and Leon are among the most stylish cars in their respective classes. Hopefully once their long-awaited crossover goes on sale, their market share will start to increase and justify their position within the VW Group.

11 January 2015
Skoda This is the ‘Waitrose Essentials’ of the car world, they wish! still more Tesco.

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