News: UK sales continue to boom. Why worry?


The past few days has seen a flurry of press releases from happy car manufacturers and importers, stating that 2014 has been yet another year of record sales and growth. Winners include Suzuki, Subaru, MINI and – yes – MG Motor UK.

This is excellent news, and shows, once again, that the UK appears to be weathering the economic gloom that’s beginning to overshadow the European economy. So, in the press releases, you’ll read guff like this from MG Motor UK: ‘The iconic British brand grew sales by 361% (to 2300) following a highly successful launch of its new MG3 supermini, a major expansion of the dealer network and the addition of a new performance diesel powertrain in the MG6.’

Or KIA’s President and Chief Executive of Kia Motors in the UK, Paul Philpott, who said: ‘The UK new car market has performed well in 2014 with premium products and light commercials doing particularly well – so to maintain our momentum is both heartening and encouraging for our dealer network.’

Picking through the press releases issued after the SMMT’s sales figures were made public shows that there have been many records broken, so we really should be given a hearty pat on the back for keeping the economy turning by buying – and building, and exporting – an increasing number of cars. So are things fixed after the worst global recession to hit the western world in a lifetime?

It’s interesting to see what Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said on the matter. He stated: ‘UK new car registrations returned to pre-recession levels in 2014. For the market as a whole, we expect a more stable 2015 as demand levels off.’

Reading between the lines, the that’s definite praise for 2014, but a much less bullish comment on 2015’s chances. Yes, he’s saying that it’ll be stable, but it’s also telling that he thinks that demand is going to level off. No doubt, the SMMT is preparing for the eventuality of political and economic unrest in 2015 – with the prospect of an unsettled General Election, unstable markets, tension in Russia, and religious unrest throughout Europe and the Middle East – the fragile British recovery could, and probably will, stall in 2015.

Yes, 2014 was a great year for car sales, but the industry should not be complacent. So when asked why should we be fearful of a return of Scrappage in 2015, given the strong sales last year? Read above – and remember that the SMMT is the organisation that’s drawing up plans to facilitate its reintroduction. If the scheme does come back, you can guarantee that I’ll be fighting it in whatever way possible.

UK new car registrations (rolling year total) – 2008-2014, with 2015 forecast

UK Sales

% change8.7%4.4%11.0%93.7%5.7%7.4%46.4%
Mkt share ’1450.8%46.6%2.6%38.8%54.4%6.7%
Mkt share ’1352.9%45.6%1.5%39.9%55.1%5.0%
2014 full yearTotalDieselPetrolAFVPrivateFleetBusiness
% change9.3%10.0%7.2%58.1%9.8%8.7%12.0%
Mkt share ’1450.1%47.8%2.1%47.6%47.6%4.8%
Mkt share ’1349.8%48.8%1.4%47.5%47.9%4.7%
Total cars2,404,0072,131,7951,994,9992,030,8461,941,2532,044,6092,264,737
Best sellersDecember   2014 full year
1Vauxhall Corsa80741Ford Fiesta131,254
2Ford Fiesta75072Ford Focus85,140
3Ford Focus61963Vauxhall Corsa81,783
4MINI53754Volkswagen Golf73,880
5Vauxhall Astra49365Vauxhall Astra59,689
6Vauxhall Mokka40996Nissan Qashqai49,909
7Volkswagen Golf40937Volkswagen Polo48,004
8BMW 3 Series33618Audi A345,581
9Volkswagen Polo31899Fiat 50044,005
10Nissan Juke304810Nissan Juke39,263
Keith Adams
Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)

Be the first to comment

Add to the debate: leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.