Best selling cars in 2019: The highs and lows
Vehicle sales figures* tell us many things. Pure
volumes hint at the economy’s health; individual model sales show us what’s
important to buyers; and what powers our vehicles gives a good view of our acceptance
of electrification. So let’s have a look at the highs - and lows - of 2019.
The headline figure is that total annual vehicle sales are down 2.4% compared to 2018 and there are some other notable trends too.
Less attractive taxation has lowered the appeal of company cars, down 34.4% year-on-year; private sales have also taken a 3.2% dip. Fleet vehicles - the largest sales sector - have stayed steady with a 0.8% uplift.
There have been fluctuations across the year too, with a notable increase in sales in December: an uplift of 3.4% when compared to the same period in 2018. Perhaps this was down to some governmental stability following the election. Whatever the reason, 144,997 new cars were registered in the final month of the year.
March and September - when the new number plates arrive each year - were both peaks in new car registrations too, indicating that there is still great appeal in having a car with the latest plate.
Most popular fuel types
The biggest shift has been in choice of fuel.
Vehicles with some form of electric propulsion - whether all-electric or some
form of hybrid - made up 9.8% of total sales in 2019, up from 7.3% in 2018.
Within this, there have been some movers and
shakers too: fully electric cars now formed 3.3% of all car sales (compared to
just 1.1% in 2018) and mild hybrids (petrol and diesel) increased from 1% of
the market share in 2018 to 4.3% in 2019.
-Diesel and petrol
Diesel cars have hit the news a great deal in
2019 with their future ban in central Bristol sparking heated debates. While
Euro 6 compliant diesel engines are cleaner than ever, the sales tide has
turned with sales falling a hefty 21.8%.
Petrol vehicle sales have remained steady,
changing from 63.8% market share in 2018 to 63.3% of sales last year; the drop
in diesel sales has been broadly replaced by hybrid and electric models.
Most popular vehicle models
There’s no surprise in terms of the top three
for the year, with Ford’s Fiesta in pole position (77,833 sales) and
Volkswagen’s Golf (58,994) just pipping the Ford Focus (56,619) into second
place. In fact, Ford takes three of the top ten places. Vauxhall Corsa sits at
fourth for 2019, but a new model due in the UK soon will help boost sales in
2020. In terms of SUVs, the Nissan Qashqai is sixth, Ford Kuga 7th and Kia
What does it all mean?
For 2020, the trend toward electrification is set to continue, especially with numerous EV models reaching showrooms this year. Many of these will be small-to-medium in size - so therefore more affordable - and offering respectable ranges to make them real alternatives to vehicles using fossil fuels. Some, such as the new Vauxhall Corsa, will be available as electric or petrol; others, for example the Honda e, will be electric only.
While some of the shift in sales to hybrid and electric models will be generated by individual choice, increasingly, it is being driven by model availability. Just five years ago, hybrids might have been considered more niche; today, there are countless models with hybrid options; in fact some are sold exclusively as hybrids.
Diesel still makes sense for some drivers, especially higher mileage users or those enjoying its suitability for larger, heavier vehicles. Yet the high torque of electric motors in combination with a petrol or diesel in a hybrid can work well.
As for 2020 sales, conflicting views mean we don’t know the full impact of Brexit - only time will tell - but a wave of exciting new models means there will certainly be plenty of choice.
*Data supplied by Society of Motor Manufacturers
About the Author
Andrew is a freelance motoring journalist with a background in IT and the vehicle leasing industry. With a lifetime’s passion for all things automotive, he can be found behind the wheel of everything from vans to supercars. In addition to reviewing the latest vehicles and technology, Andrew also runs a couple of classic British motors. He lives at the edge of the Peak District with his son and cat.
Andrew Wright @theMotorWriter