The latest official car registrations figures from the SMMT have been published.
The overall market shows surprisingly strong growth of 2.6% so far this year – that is a lot better than the economy as a whole. However, the car market is currently running at an annual rate of 1.95 million registrations, which is still a long way below its 2007 level of 2.4 million.
There are some big changes in manufacturer's performance this year. The winners include Land Rover (up 28.4%), Kia (up 24.0%) and Skoda (up 18.2%). Of the three, the most surprising is Skoda, as it had no new models in this period. With the new Citigo going on sale now, its growth rate should accelerate even further.
The losers include Renault, which is down 44.4% and now sells fewer cars than Land Rover, Fiat or Mini. Alfa Romeo is also having a very bad time, with sales down 35.8% and it is now even smaller in the UK than Lexus. Given that Alfa has had new models recently with the Mito and Giulietta, one wonders if it can ever recover in the UK. A market share of 0.4% is hardly worth the effort of making right-hand-drive cars. However, the worst performance came from troubled Lotus, who sold just 79 cars in the first five months of the year (down 61%). The new Elise S and Exige S are apparently brilliant, but are they too little too late?