Soaring sales

Brits are loving small and colorful American cars

April 4, 2014
Obsession
How We Buy
April 4, 2014

British car sales have been a rare bright spot in Europe’s otherwise sputtering auto market. They did not disappoint last month, with March sales surging by nearly 18%, to just below the all-time record for the month, set 10 years ago.

March-new-car-registrations-in-the-UK-cars_chartbuilder

The latest numbers are “surprisingly strong,” according to the head of the industry group that collects the data. This has been a theme for the buoyant British economy for some time, in a wide range of industries. The strength has caught policymakers off guard, although this is a good problem to have, as the head of the central bank admits.

On a rolling 12-month basis, British car sales are just about back to their pre-crisis average:

Tap image to zoom
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

Although Brits are back to buying as many cars as they were ten years ago, their tastes have changed. Sales in the fuel-efficient “mini” segment have more than doubled over the past decade, while “supermini” cars have also gained ground. This has largely been at the expense of the pricier, petrol-guzzling “upper medium” category, which has seen sales fall by half over the past 10 years.

In a sales update today, Mercedes-Benz noted that its compact models paced the company’s March sales, which set an all-time monthly record for the German automaker. Its sales in the UK grew 20%, more than double the rate in Europe as a whole.

In terms of brands, however, more Brits appear to prefer American autos. The two top-selling models in the UK so far this year are made by Ford (the Fiesta and the Focus). Along with two other popular models produced by GM-owned Vauxhall (the Corsa and the Astra), four of the top five cars sold in Britain come from American-run firms.

Refreshingly, British drivers are also growing bolder when presented with color swatches at car dealerships. Nearly two-thirds of cars sold ten years ago were silver or blue, while today only a quarter are, which has led to a more diverse rainbow of smaller, zippier cars whizzing around Britain’s motorways.

Tap image to zoom
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

Top News

Powered by WordPress.com VIP
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 20,965 other followers