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UK 2014 car sales analysis: winners and losers

Published: 07 January 2015

Britain’s new-car market is booming, official figures out this morning prove - with the biggest registration bonanza for a decade.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) report that 2,476,435 new cars were sold in 2014, up 9.3% on the previous year and the highest total since 2004.

In fact, last year was the fourth biggest year on record, following 2002, 2003 and 2004, and establishes the UK as the second biggest market in Europe after Germany.

Britain’s best-selling cars revealed

There were few surprises in the UK’s best-sellers list, with Ford and Vauxhall lodged firmly in the top three, followed by the usual Qashqai and Juke crossovers, VWs and the Fiat 500. Audi’s A3 at number eight made us sit up and take notice, however.

Britain’s most popular cars in 2014 were:

1) Ford Fiesta 131,254
2) Ford Focus 85,140
3) Vauxhall Corsa 81,783
4) Volkswagen Golf 73,880
5) Vauxhall Astra 59,689
6) Nissan Qashqai 49,909
7) Volkswagen Polo 48,004
8) Audi A3 45,581
9) Fiat 500 44,005
10) Nissan Juke 39,263

Interesting absences from this top 10 were any BMW group products; both the 3-series and Mini have been regulars in the best-sellers list in previous years.

2014 car manufacturers winners and losers

We've sifted through all the SMMT data to produce this handy guide to which brands popped champagne corks at the end of 2014, and which were down in the dumps. Brands highlighted in green were up, those in the red... well, that tells its own story.

Remember when interpreting the figures below that the whole market was up, on average, by 9.4%. So anybody growing by less than double figures is arguably underperforming.

Notable successes include Maserati (up 274%) as its slew of new diesels and the Ghibli sent UK sales soaring and Infiniti finally got some traction, as it extended its dealership network in anticipation of the new Q30 which arrives in autumn 2015; that car could turbocharge sales beyond its still piddly 746 vehicles sold in 2014.

Of more interest are the bigger-volume players and some interesting trends emerge here. Ford and Vauxhall had modest rises of just 5% and 3% respectively, but Renault saw a chunky 44% jump to a credible 66,000 registrations. Some of this might have come at the expense of Peugeot, which saw a difficult 2% slide...

A doff of the hat, too, to smaller brands Mitsubishi and SsangYong, which both found themselves with in-demand cars, sparking increases of 75% and 133% each.

Which car makers struggled in 2014's bonanza year?

The usual suspects saw dips, mostly those brands with ageing product line-ups and no new marketing messages. So we can excuse Smart's 18% drop, as it was waiting for the new Fortwo and Forfour; Lotus had nothing new to sell, so it's no surprise UK sales slipped 8%; Alfa's still waiting for the new Giulia, so dealers were 3% quieter; and moribund Honda fell 4%.

Aston Martin, too, is waiting for new products, as the Vantage and DB9 successors are waiting in the wings for launch in 2015-16, explaining the 7% drop to 864 sports cars sold last year. It seems that our appetite for American cars has plummeted though: Chrysler sales collapsed by 21% to just 1982 cars and Chevrolet, which withdrew from Europe, cleared out its cupboard with the last 2774 cars. Jeep, however, posted strong growth of 75%, up to nearly 4000 SUVs.

But it's fair to say that most car makers had a strong 2014. Be sure to share your analysis in our comments below.

MARQUE 2014 sales % Market share 2013 sales % Market share Up or down?
Abarth 1642 0.07 1352 0.06 +21.5%
Alfa Romeo 5523 0.22 5687 0.25 -2.9%
Aston Martin 864 0.03 926 0.04 -6.7%
Audi 158,987 6.42 142,040 6.27 +11.9%
Bentley 1472 0.06 1231 0.05 +19.6%
BMW 148,878 6.01 135,583 5.99 +9.8%
Chevrolet 2774 0.11 11676 0.52 -76.2%
Chrysler 1982 0.08 2515 0.11 -21.2%
Citroen 83,397 3.37 78,358 3.46 +6.4%
Dacia 23,862 0.96 17,146 0.76 +39.2%
Fiat 67,162 2.71 60,198 2.66 +11.6%
Ford 326,643 13.19 310,865 13.73 +5.1%
Honda 53,544 2.16 55,660 2.46 -3.8%
Hyundai 81,986 3.31 76,918 3.40 +6.6%
Infiniti 746 0.03 386 0.02 +93.3%
Jaguar 18,401 0.74 16,210 0.72 +13.5%
Jeep 3909 0.16 2229 0.10 +75.4%
Kia 77,525 3.13 72,090 3.18 +7.6%
Land Rover 56,200 2.27 54,699 2.42 +2.7%
Lexus 11,572 0.47 9,014 0.40 +28.4%
Lotus 235 0.01 256 0.01 -8.2%
Maserati 1194 0.05 319 0.01 +274.3%
Mazda 37,784 1.53 31,228 1.38 +20.9%
Mercedes-Benz 124,419 5.02 109,456 4.83 +13.7%
MG 2326 0.09 504 0.02 +361.5%
Mia 5 0.00 5 0.00 0%
Mini 53,661 2.17 51,933 2.29 +3.3%
Mitsubishi 15,805 0.64 9044 0.40 +74.8%
Nissan 138,338 5.59 117,967 5.21 +17.3%
Perodua 29 0.00 206 0.01 -85.9%
Peugeot 103,566 4.18 105,435 4.66 -1.8%
Porsche 9160 0.37 8260 0.36 +10.9%
Proton 11 0.00 20 0.00 -45.0%
Renault 66,334 2.68 46,173 2.04 +43.7%
Saab 3 0.00 3 0.00 0
Seat 53,512 2.16 45,312 2.00 +18.1%
Skoda 75,488 3.05 66,081 2.92 +14.2%
Smart 4342 0.18 5314 0.23 -18.3%
Ssangyong 1542 0.06 662 0.03 +132.9%
Subaru 2793 0.11 2271 0.10 +22.9%
Suzuki 37,395 1.51 33,088 1.46 +13.0%
Toyota 94,012 3.80 88,648 3.91 +6.1%
Vauxhall 269,177 10.87 259,444 11.46 +3.8%
Volkswagen 214,828 8.67 194,085 8.57 +10.7%
Volvo 41,066 1.66 32,666 1.44 +25.7%
Other British 774 0.03 759 0.03 +1.9%
Other Imports 1567 0.06 815 0.04 +92.3%
Total 2,476,435   2,264,737   +9.4

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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