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Mercedes-Benz CLA

All show: North East car buyers are the flashiest in the UK

Mercedes-Benz CLA

Who in Britain is the proudest when it comes to cars? Londoners? Nope. Essex boys (and girls)? Not even close. The flashiest of us car owners in the UK, in fact, reside in the North East, according to a 2,000-person survey commissioned by GAP insurance provider, InsureTheGap.com.

It figures that a Guaranteed Asset Protection provider would endeavour to uncover where in the UK swaps out cars for new models the most frequently. And the survey says a lot about proud North-Eastern car culture and what their transport means to them.

The headline figure is that 41 percent of North-Eastern car buyers get a new car every two to four years, compared to the national average of 28 percent. One in four buyers choose new instead of used, because of the ‘new car’ look and feel, never mind the added cost.

Compare that to a mere 19 percent of people from across the UK that have the same sentiments. That could explain why car owners in the North East are also the least likely of any in the UK to own their car outright, and are in the top three regions for people who say their car payment is in their top three monthly expenses.

As a nation, it seems we’re rather keen on cars as a status symbol. While 27 percent of people in the UK think a car should say something about who you are and what you’ve done with yourself, one in three (36 percent) of North-Eastern folks take the same view.

Range-Rover Evoque

Only 14 percent of North-Eastern drivers would accept a hand-me-down car, compared to a national average of 21 percent. They’re also the least likely to accept that old “as long as it gets me from A to B” sentiment – 32 percent versus 42 percent across the UK.

When asked if picking a car is an affair of the heart rather than a common sense purchase, 24 percent said yes, versus the national average of 16 percent.

Given cars are more objects of desire to the North-Eastern folk, it comes as no surprise that they are the least attracted to more environmentally friendly cars. 27 percent indicated a willingness to drive an electric car, looking titchy compared to the national average of 37 percent and the whopping 49 percent London figure.

“Throughout our survey, the North East consistently came out as the region where people take most pride in their cars with very few people prepared to compromise when it comes to buying a new car, or “making-do” with a hand-me-down“, said Ben Wooltorton, Chief Operating Office at InsuretheGap.com

“Interestingly, it was also the region that was least likely to be prepared to move away from traditional petrol and diesel cars. The region appears to be every car salesperson’s dream.”

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UK car exports are booming - but Brexit Britain slumps

UK car exports are booming – but Brexit Britain slumps

UK car exports are booming - but Brexit Britain slumps

Doubts over the economy hit the car industry last month – with a 10.6% slump in the number of British-built cars sold within the UK compared to the same time last year.

That’s according to production figures released this morning by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which reveal that this dip was offset by the number of cars being exported worldwide.

The number of exports increased by 5.0% – up to 123,119 in September 2016, contributing to a year-to-date total of more than one million (up 12.2% compared to 2015).

This puts added pressure on the UK Government to negotiate a fair trade deal between the UK and Europe when article 50 is triggered by Theresa May.

“British-built cars are in demand across the world as demonstrated by the double digit growth in exports this year, resulting in more than a million cars produced for international markets,” explains SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“The vast majority of cars manufactured here in the UK are destined for abroad and future growth will depend on securing our international competitiveness and the barrier-free access to major global markets that has enabled UK Automotive to thrive.”

The SMMT recently revealed that the number of private buyers registering new cars dropped by 1.7% in the plate-change month of September.

UK car exports are booming - but Brexit Britain slumps

Volkswagen Golf (2016)

VW sales plunge 14% across Europe in July 2016

Volkswagen Golf (2016)Europe’s big five new car markets declined 2% in July 2016, despite modest gains in three of them – but it’s an alarming 13.9% fall in Volkswagen sales that’s most striking.

Europe’s largest car brand suffered the biggest market share drop of any maker on sale in the EU, falling from 13.2% of all new cars sold in 2015 to 11.6% in 2016.

It’s still 23,000 units ahead of second-placed Ford, but volumes have now dropped below the 100,000 mark.

Of the individual Volkswagen Group marques, the Volkswagen brand’s 13.9% fall was the largest, but other brands were also down: Skoda by 10.8%, SEAT by 3.2% and even premium leader Audi was down by 3.5% (arch-rival BMW was up 3.1% and Mercedes-Benz was up 2.8%).

JATO, which collated the figures, blamed dieselgate: “The decline shows that Volkswagen’s emissions issue continues to affect the company”.

Looking at individual models, although the Volkswagen Golf was the best-selling car in July 2016, its volume was down by almost a quarter compared to 2015. It still had a clear lead over the second-placed Volkswagen Polo, but the rate of decline of the VW supermini was far greater than that of Ford’s ageing Fiesta, leaving them split by fewer than 500 sales over the month.

The facelifted Volkswagen Golf, due to be revealed at the Paris Motor Show this autumn, can’t come a moment too soon…

As for individual markets, post-Brexit Britain still managed to grow, as did Italy – but Germany, Europe’s biggest new car market by far, was down 4%, Spain was down 2% and France fell by a whopping 10%.

In July, France had fallen to fourth in the European new car market rankings: traditionally, it’s been the second-biggest sales area for new cars but the UK overtook some time ago and now Italy sells more cars than France.

Ford Fiesta 2015

March 2016 new car registrations set new record

Ford Fiesta 2015New car registrations grew by more than 5% in March 2016 – making it the biggest-ever month since the bi-annual registration change system was introduced back in 1999.

With 518,707 new cars registered, the market for the new 16-plate registration topped the half-million mark for only the third time ever.

Once again, it was the Ford Fiesta that led the way, with more than 23,000 new models registered. The Vauxhall Corsa was second and the Ford Focus was third.

The March registrations figures topped off a great first quarter for the UK car industry: this too set a new record with more than 770,000 new cars registered. That’s also a rise of more than 5% on 2015 levels.

Business user growth outpaced retail growth though: the business sector was up 15.3% and fleet registrations were up 6.0%, compared to 3.8% growth in private car registrations.

Registrations of alternative fuel vehicles continued to outpace the market, with growth of 21.5% – compared to growth of 4.8% and 4.7% for diesel and petrol cars.

This latter point also suggests any anti-diesel sentiment is not being reflected on the showroom floor…

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The sector’s strong growth in March rounds off a robust first quarter as British consumers continue to demonstrate their appetite for new cars, especially ultra-low emission vehicles.

“This confidence should see registrations remain at a high but broadly stable level over the year, but could be undermined by political or economic uncertainty.”

This last point appears to be a veiled comment about the Brexit EU Referendum set to be held on 23 June: the SMMT has previously voiced its support for the ‘in’ campaign, stating that “remaining in the EU is best for our business”.

March 2016 best sellers top 10

  1. Ford Fiesta: 23,467
  2. Vauxhall Corsa: 17,368
  3. Ford Focus: 14,002
  4. Volkswagen Golf: 13,041
  5. Nissan Qashqai: 11,355
  6. Volkswagen Polo: 10,279
  7. Vauxhall Astra: 9,953
  8. MINI: 8,915
  9. Fiat 500: 8,304
  10. Audi A3: 8,200
Ford logo

Ford pulls out of Japan and Indonesia

Ford logoFord is to pull out of the Japanese and Indonesian new car markets, blaming tough conditions and the closed economies of both car markets that favour domestic brands.

It won’t make a huge difference to Ford’s global sales: in 2015, it sold just 6,100 cars in Indonesia, and a mere 5,000 in Japan. But the signal it sends for a global maker to withdraw from a key market such as Japan is significant.


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A staggering 5 million vehicles were sold in Japan during 2015 – but imported vehicles formed just 6.5% of that total.

Ford says sales in Japan accounted for just 0.15% of its overall global volume.

The blue oval will now withdraw from both markets by the end of 2016, with around 300 jobs in Japan now in question – although fewer than 50 in Indonesia are reportedly at risk.

“Japan is the most closed, developed auto economy in the world, with all imported brands accounting for less than 6% of Japan’s annual new car market,” said Ford spokesman Neal McCarthy.

Even the looming agreement of the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement won’t alter Ford’s fortunes in Japan, hence the brand’s withdrawal.

Lotus Exige Sport 350 2016

A Lotus a day helps 2015 sales make headway

Lotus Exige Sport 350 2016Lotus continues to recover from its post-Dany Bahar nadir, with full-year 2015 new car registrations for the UK reaching 375 units, compared to 235 cars the previous year.

The 2015 success means Lotus sales grew 60% in a year and have returned to the level they were at in 2010 – and with seven new dealers appointed in 2015 alone, the firm is hopeful of more growth in 2016.

There are two dealers in London alone – the first time Lotus has been represented in Britain’s capital since 2009. It plans to bring on more dealers to further grow the 16-retailer total in 2016.


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UK dealer growth is matched globally too: from having 138 dealers in May 2014, Lotus now has 202 retailers worldwide, again with more planned.

“Substantial” sales growth in Germany, France and Italy will help encourage this new dealer push.

New and improved cars are behind its recovery drive: successes include the Evora 400, Exige Sport 350 and the Elises Sport and Sport 220.

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc, said, “These are excellent sales results and prove definitively that Lotus is back!”

Now for the all-new cars to cement this return to growth and profitability, Lotus…

Stephan Winkelmann

Bullish Lamborghini sales grow again in 2015

Stephan WinkelmannLamborghini sold 3,245 supercars in 2015 – taking it past the 3,000 unit mark for the first time in its 52-year history.

The fifth straight year of growth for the Italian firm, it means 2015 sales were 2.5 times those of 2010.

Even compared to 2014, sales grew 28% (2,530 Lamborghinis were sold in the previous year).

A hefty 2,242 of those 2015 sales were of the new Lamborghini Huracan; this was the first full year of sales for the Gallardo replacement – and sales were up 70% on that car at the same point in its life.

Impressively, Aventador hypercar sales topped the 1,000 mark: 1,003 LP 700-4 coupe and roadster plus new LP 750-4 SV were sold (indeed, all 600 SV coupe and 500 SV roadsters have now been sold).

52 months after its launch, Lamborghini says Aventador sales are up 124% on the old Murcielago was at the same point.

Coming in 2016 to continue the sales momentum are the Huracan LP 610-4 Spyder and Huracan LP 580-2 rear-wheel drive monster.

In 2015 Lamborghini delivered an exceptional sales performance and new records in all key business figures, confirming the strength of our brand, product and commercial strategy,” said Stephan Winkelmann, president and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A (pictured above).

“With the introduction of several new models in 2015 and a solid order bank we are well prepared for the year 2016.”

Lamborghini’s top 6 markets

  1. USA
  2. Greater China
  3. Japan
  4. UK
  5. Middle East
  6. Germany