The UK car market is generally a pretty stable place – market shares tend to move by a fraction of a percent year by year.
Not this year – it's like a fireworks party, with some manufacturers shooting into the sky and others burning out and falling to earth. For example, Renault is down over 40% and was just a couple of hundred units ahead of Mini in the first quarter of this year. Land Rover is up by almost 20% and is now a mainstream player.
At the top of the chart, Ford has extended its lead over Vauxhall to over four percentage points (14.7% vs. 10.3%). That is the biggest lead it has enjoyed since 1999, thanks both to the new Focus, and also the problems Vauxhall's parent company General Motors Europe is currently enduring, with threats of factory closures and huge cutbacks.
Amongst the major brands, the biggest jump came from Nissan, which rose 20.3% thanks to the Juke, followed by Land Rover with 19.2%, thanks to the Evoque. We are having to rethink what sort of company Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is – the combined market share of JLR was 3.5% in the first quarter, which would have put the combined company in the Top 10 in the UK. That is a far cry from even three years ago, when JLR was a niche player.
The big trend in the market is the rise of value brands, with Skoda up 24% (and that is before the Citigo has an effect) and Kia up 17%. What used to be called volume European brands need a new title – legacy brands perhaps? Renault and Fiat were relegated from the Premier League long ago and are now facing relegation from the Championship. They are just ahead of Mini, which is only meant to be a niche brand, and they are well behind the value brands. Skoda outselling Renault (and making more money on their European sales as well). Who would have thought it?