Currently reading: Winners and losers in the 2018 UK car market
Who has done well this year and which models have bombed? We sift through the new car registrations and reveal all
8 mins read
31 December 2018

The final UK 2018 new-car registration figure is expected to be 2.4 million at best, a 5.5% drop on 2017 and a fall of 10.9% from the 2016 peak of just under 2.7 million.

The hope is the market will now stabilise at around 2.3 million – but much will depend on Brexit. For now, here’s the good and bad news of 2018.  


  • 2017 market share: 0.20% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.18% 

Alfa Romeo is in the Last Chance Saloon but, unfortunately, the Stelvio appears to have passed out on the floor. Sales only just exceeded 1000 units this year – about 10% of what the Jaguar F-Pace achieves.


  • 2017 market share: 0.06% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.06% 

Now Britain’s only publicly listed car company, Aston is preparing for its next leap forward with the DBX SUV and Lagonda saloon (third time lucky after the failed 1961 Lagonda Rapide and 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda?). 


  • 2017 market share: 6.89% 
  • 2018 market share: 6.18% 

Audi’s sales crashed in September because a shortage of engineers meant it could not homologate its cars for the new WLTP emission standards in time. Its market share will likely recover next year. 


  • 2017 market share: 0.07% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.07% 

Is Bentley in trouble? The Bentayga was meant to sharply increase the luxury brand’s sales, yet market share is essentially no higher than before. Bentley has denied reports that is it awash with unsold examples of its SUV, saying sales of the model are as expected.


  • 2017 market share: 6.89% 
  • 2018 market share: 7.22% 

BMW has bounced back this year, thanks to the new X2 and 5 Series. The new 3 Series (still BMW’s top seller) should give the sales numbers an even more significant boost during the course of 2019. 

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  • 2017 market share: 2.03% 
  • 2018 market share: 2.14% 

With MPVs in their death throes, Citroën is reduced to being a seller of very small cars: 66% of sales come from the C1/C3/C3 Aircross. However, the new C5 Aircross could make an impact in 2019. 


  • 2017 market share: 0.99% 
  • 2018 market share: 1.00% 

Dacia has been becalmed for three years with a market share of around 1.0%. However, the new Duster’s recent arrival on the scene should give the company some increased impetus next year. 


  • 2017 market share: 0.36% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.22% 

DS demanding to be seen as ‘premium’ is a bit like someone endlessly demanding ‘respect’. In both cases, you have to earn it, not demand it. The brand’s big hope among a year of failure is the upcoming DS 3 Crossback.


  • 2017 market share: 0.03% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.04% 

Not a great year for the firm, with the death of chairman Sergio Marchionne and the failure to win the Formula 1 championship. However, sales are as steady as a rock. 


  • 2017 market share: 1.93% 
  • 2018 market share: 1.75% 

During 2018, 500-badged models accounted for 80% of Fiat’s sales.

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  • 2017 market share: 11.31% 
  • 2018 market share: 10.69% 

Most of Ford’s European profits have traditionally come from the UK, but with the weak pound and falling UK sales, Ford of Europe has serious issues. It continues to have the largest market share of anyone in 2018, though. 


  • 2017 market share: 2.12% 
  • 2018 market share: 2.25% 

Market share has risen over the past couple of years but, with 40% of sales coming from the beige-cardigan Jazz, the image might still take a bit longer to improve. 


  • 2017 market share: 3.68% 
  • 2018 market share: 3.86% 

Hyundai’s steady rise continues. The key factor is that its new models are very rarely duds: this year, the Kona and Ioniq have slotted into the range, sold well and boosted overall share. 


  • 2017 market share: 0.14% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.03% 

A tough year for Nissan’s upmarket brand. You’d have to look back a long, long way to find a European-made car that has flopped as badly as the Q30/QX30 has done. Its build quality is among the best, but its showroom appeal is precisely the opposite.


  • 2017 market share: 1.40% 
  • 2018 market share: 1.56% 

The E-Pace and F-Pace are doing well but, unfortunately, the XE is looking like a poor investment: the Merc C-Class and BMW 3 Series are both outselling it five to one. The XF and aging XJ aren’t exactly flying out of dealers, either. 


  • 2017 market share: 0.25% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.26% 

In one of the world’s best 4x4 markets, the world’s most recognised 4x4 range is being outsold by the Kia Stonic – the result of distinctly average products being marketed at premium prices.

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  • 2017 market share: 3.67% 
  • 2018 market share: 4.14% 

Kia has the ability to sell the unlikeliest cars: its telephone-box Soul MPV is the only car in its shrinking segment actually to increase sales. Even the Optima large saloon and estate are doing decent business. 


  • 2017 market share: 3.25% 
  • 2018 market share: 3.31% 

Previously untouchable Land Rover has picked up a few scratches this year. The new Velar is doing well, but the Discovery is down 25% and the Discovery Sport has fallen 20% – two vitally important volume cars.


  • 2017 market share 0.50% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.54% 

There has been slight growth thanks to the NX SUV, which takes nearly 40% of sales, but almost every other model has declined. The smaller UX crossover should give Lexus a shot in the arm next year. 


  • 2017 market share: 0.01% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.01% 

Lotus is really in a holding pattern while new owner Geely draws up its hugely ambitious – and exciting – investment plans. Sales are currently tiny. 

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  • 2017 market share: 0.07% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.05% 

As with the firm’s Alfa Romeo sibling and the Stelvio, 2018 was supposed to be the year that Maserati’s new Levante SUV made the long-awaited sales breakthrough. It didn’t. With nothing new on the horizon for 2019, things look decidedly bleak.


  • 2017 market share: 1.54% 
  • 2018 market share: 1.69% 

The second-generation CX-5 (now Mazda’s bestseller) has led to a slight rise. The all-new 3 will arrive next year and should add another boost. 


  • 2017 market share: 7.12% 
  • 2018 market share: 7.24% 

After finishing 2017 as the leading German premium brand for the first time in decades, Mercedes is only very marginally ahead of BMW as this year swings to a close so 2018 will go down to the wire.


  • 2017 market share: 0.17% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.38% 

It would be pushing it to say the new ZS crossover has made a breakthrough, but the figures are certainly encouraging. The ZS is selling about the same as the combined total for the Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade.

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  • 2017 market share: 2.68% 
  • 2018 market share: 2.69% 

As expected, the new Countryman has boosted Mini’s market share slightly. The only new model activity scheduled for 2019 will be the electric Mini – 10 years after the first 40 prototypes were tested by UK consumers. 


  • 2017 market share: 0.63% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.87% 

Just when things were going so well, the government abolished the plug-in car grant. As the Outlander was the grant’s biggest beneficiary, sales are likely to suffer in 2019.


  • 2017 market share: 5.95% 
  • 2018 market share: 4.38% 

After years of accelerating sales thanks to the Qashqai and Juke, Nissan has had a nasty shock. The Juke (sales down 35%) is now eight years old, which is pretty ancient for a fashion item. 


  • 2017 market share: 3.24% 
  • 2018 market share: 3.43% 

All the growth has come from the 3008/5008 range, which has increased by 60% this year. Both models are still outsold by the Hyundai Tucson, though, demonstrating Peugeot’s shrunken presence in the UK.


  • 2017 market share: 0.55% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.50% 

With UK sales of around 15,000 per year, Porsche, that well-known SUV brand, gets approximately 50% of sales from the Macan and Cayenne, 40% from the 911 and 718, and 10% from the Panamera


  • 2017 market share: 2.72% 
  • 2018 market share: 2.64% 

A few years ago, Renault culled its UK range, dropping the Laguna, Espace, Modus and Wind. It could easily do the same again: the Mégane, Scenic, Koleos and Twingo contribute very little. 


  • 2017 market share: 0.02% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.02% 

Sudden changes in market share would be rather vulgar, but the Cullinan SUV could lead to a heady 0.3% share in 2019 if the growth trend of the luxury SUV segment continues. 

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  • 2017 market share: 2.21% 
  • 2018 market share: 2.70% 

Sales of the Ibiza and Leon are steady so all registrations of the popular new Arona and Ateca are simply swelling the total. 


  • 2017 market share: 3.25% 
  • 2018 market share: 3.12% 

Skoda has said there will be no more polarising models in the style of the Yeti. It believes it can sell far more by sticking to classic, timeless styling. Logical, but rather a shame. 


  • 2017 market share: 0.41% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.33% 

Mercedes’s last excuse for its Smart brand was that at least it lowered its fleet average CO2. Given that Smart now accounts for around 5% of total Daimler car sales, even that one is wearing thin. 


  • 2017 market share: 0.14% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.12% 

Surely, some UK buyers have a use for the only full-sized separate-chassis 4x4 to have been launched in years? If so, Ssangyong is having trouble locating them. 


  • 2017 market share: 0.11% 
  • 2018 market share: 0.13% 

If Subaru was a school child, it would be the quiet one that was not quite bright enough to stand out, and not quite extrovert enough to be popular. The recent axing of all of its diesels won’t help matters.


  • 2017 market share: 1.59% 
  • 2018 market share: 1.64%

Suzuki’s bestsellers, the Vitara and Swift, both increased sales. The new Jimny will give Suzuki a buzz (in both senses) but it is unlikely to significantly change overall share. 


  • 2017 market share: 4.01% 
  • 2018 market share: 4.45%

The C-HR has grown Toyota’s share but there’s a lot of work for the 2019 Corolla to do. Just over half of sales still come from the low-margin Aygo and Yaris

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  • 2017 market share: 7.68% 
  • 2018 market share: 7.41% 

Sales of all continuing models have fallen, including the Astra (down 40%). The recent announcement of a small profit reflected asset sales as much as improved margins. 


  • 2017 market share: 8.21% 
  • 2018 market share: 8.42% 

Now number two in the UK, but not because it has increased share over the past 10 years. Its semi-premium positioning means it has simply avoided the falls of mainstream rivals. 


  • 2017 market share: 1.82% 
  • 2018 market share: 2.09% 

After nearly 20 years of struggle, Volvo is finally establishing itself as a cool, design-led alternative to German premium brands.

It was a good year to be selling…

Luxury SUVs: Up by 20%, helped by the new Range Rover Velar and BMW X5

Small crossovers: B-segment models like the Seat Arona were up 19%. Almost all manufacturers experienced growth.

Executive saloons and estates: Surprisingly, these increased market share slightly, with the Volvo S90/V90 in the vanguard.

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It was a bad year to be selling…

Anything made by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: Fiat and Alfa were down 15% and Maserati dropped 20%. Jeep fell a moderate 6%, but only because its 2017 baseline was so low.

Non-premium family hatchbacks: Models like the Ford Focus fell by 15% as buyers switched to cars like the Mercedes A-Class and crossovers.

MPVs of any size: Small models like the Citroën C3 Picasso dropped by 60%, mid-sized ones like the Ford C-Max dropped 30%, and full-sized MPVs fell 35%.

Read more

The 10 best-selling cars in Britain​

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio 2018 review​

New Cars 2018/2019: What's coming and when?​

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Rich boy spanners 2 January 2019

Not so sure Skoda will be

Not so sure Skoda will be edged out by the Korean's, at least not yet. Skoda are replacing the Rapid which is their dud car, that'll help The Octavia is the big seller and sold (so I read somewhere) around 60% to fleet sales, and having just gone through a company car selection nothing Korean came close to an Octavia due to the tax efficient VW Group engines and range of option choices. The Koreans's were alomost 'this is the engine and this is the trim'. For private buyers it may well be the case though.

comment8 2 January 2019

Seat v.Skoda

It seems to Skoda are flagging as Seat expands. There has been a big marketing push of Seat over the last few years and it looks like two "cheaper than a VW" brands are hard to sustain. Its not hepled by the topping and tailing as VW rushes SUVs onto the market. Yet to see though a group test featuring all 3 brands to work out which in fact it the best compromise though. 

grabson 1 January 2019

Alfa makes ugly cars??

Ok so Stelvio and Giulia arent selling here in great number, but this country loves Germans more than any other,so its all about Germans and ofcourse home made cars btw everywhere else Giulia and Stelvio sells more than Xe and Fpace. But what really is strange is some people here talking Italian design is dead..Have you seen Giulia on the road? By far The best looking sedan in the world, have you been to specsavers?

xxxx 2 January 2019

Everywhere else ?

grabson wrote:

....ofcourse home made cars btw everywhere else Giulia and Stelvio sells more than Xe and Fpace. ....

Sorry but the Fpace is currently outselling the Stelvio in the states, not bad for an 'older' car. And the Giulia sales are disappointing too.