Ford on top as UK new car sales fall for 5th month running

Ford FocusFord is celebrating a commanding sales win in January 2019 with a one-two result in the UK new car registrations chart.

As always, the Fiesta was number one, but the latest Ford Focus made it into second place – beating its perennial arch-rival, the Volkswagen Golf.

Indeed, the Nissan Qashqai also outsold the Golf, and was only narrowly behind the Focus in third place. The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class rounded out the top five in the data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Overall, new car registrations dipped 1.6 percent in January 2019, the fifth consecutive month of decline. SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said it was still a decent performance, with sales roughly on a par with a year ago “as the latest high tech models and deals attracted buyers into showrooms”.

However, he said, “to restore momentum, we need supportive policies, not least on vehicle taxation, to encourage buyers to invest in new, cleaner vehicles that best suit their driving needs – from the latest petrols and diesels to an ever growing range of exciting electrified vehicles.”

Diesel down… again

For now, diesels continue to dramatically decline. Registrations were down 20.3 percent, taking the diesel new car share of the market to less than 30 percent.

Alternatively fuelled vehicle sales were, however, up 26.3 percent, giving them a 6.8 percent market share. Yet this is still at the lower end of government targets, added the SMMT, “underlining the need for greater purchase incentives and investment in charging infrastructure”.

Some brand also suffered significant individual declines, the SMMT figures also revealed. Audi was down 26.9 percent in January, while Porsche was down 41.5 percent.

Infiniti Q30

Infiniti sales plunged by a dramatic 67 percent to just 32 new cars – giving it a tiny 0.02 percent market share. Volvo registrations, by contrast, grew by a massive 79.7 percent, taking its market share up to 2.5 percent.

Ian Plummer is director at new and used car marketplace Auto Trader. He said the SMMT figures showed some brands were still suffering from stocking effects due to the new WLTP fuel economy rules, “placing real strain on retailers.

“However, we can see for some brands such as Volvo and some of the Korean and Japanese marques, supply seems to be in good shape and has helped them to record a great start ot the year.”

Plummer added that in the run-up to the March registration plate change, there should be some good deals in showrooms, particularly in the run-up to Brexit on 29 March.

“The outlook for the industry in 2019 remains relatively positive.”

Britain’s top 10 best-selling cars: January 2019

  1. Ford Fiesta
  2. Ford Focus
  3. Nissan Qashqai
  4. Volkswagen Golf
  5. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
  6. Vauxhall Corsa
  7. Kia Sportage
  8. Volkswagen Polo
  9. Toyota Yaris
  10. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
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