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UK car market had worst growth in Europe last year

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The UK had the worst performing car market in terms of growth in 2018, with a 6.8% decline in registrations.

In terms of volume, the UK is still Europe’s second biggest market for new cars with more than 2.3 million new cars registered last year.

Globally, Europe was the world’s third largest car market behind China and the US, as strong results in Spain, Poland and the Netherlands were offset by falls in the UK, Italy and Sweden.

Overall, Europe-wide registrations remained stable. The year-on-year increase was 346 units, according to research by JATO.

Diesel vehicles posted their lowest market share since 2001, as demand fell by double digits in 20 of the 27 markets.

The biggest drop was in the UK, where registrations fell by 30%.

“Throughout 2018 we continued to see the effects of the diesel crisis, as announcements of policy changes by governments led to confusion and panic among consumers,” said Felipe Munoz, global analyst at JATO.

Alternative Fuelled Vehicles (AFV) also benefitted with almost 200,000 more registrations than in 2017. 2018 marked the best ever performance for AFVs, recording 944,800 registrations and a 6.1% market share.

Notably, most of the fuel type’s growth was driven by pure electric vehicles, which outsold plug-in hybrid vehicles, as their volume increased by 47% from 132,800 vehicles in 2017 to 195,300 vehicles in 2018. Norway was the biggest market for electric vehicles, where they held a 31% market share, while the Netherlands outsold the UK and became the fourth largest EV market, behind Germany and France.

In total, 5.4 million SUVs were registered in Europe throughout the year, up 19% on 2017, as their market share increased from 29.2% to 34.6%.

Demand for SUVs has more than doubled over the last four years.

“Unlike other market trends that can often be short-lived, the SUV boom is stable and longlasting. The success is down to the industry listening to consumers and giving them what they want in terms of design, subsegments and categories,” said Munoz.

Most of the SUV growth was driven by small SUVs, where volume was up by 29% to 2 million registrations, while compact SUVs continued to be the most popular type of SUV, with 2.3 million registrations – a volume increase of 17%.

VW Group maintained its position at the top, recording 3.72 million registrations and a stable market share at 23.8%, while PSA and Renault- Nissan once again came in second and third, respectively. BMW Group climbed the rankings to become Europe’s fourth largest car maker, while Hyundai-Kia was the biggest market share winner, with its volume up by 5.2% to 1.03 million registrations, as it outsold other big makers like Ford (-3.3%), FCA (-2.4%) and Daimler (-2.8%).


The Volkswagen Golf was once again the best-selling car in Europe, however it did post an 8% fall in its registrations, mostly due to a big drop in its diesel sales, which were down by 30%. There was little change in the top 10 rankings, with the exception of the Toyota Yaris. Boosted by an increase in sales of its hybrid engine model, the Toyota Yaris was the 9th best-selling car in Europe in 2018, having ranked 15th in 2017. In contrast, the Opel/Vauxhall Astra left the top 10, as its registrations fell by 18% following large drops in its two main markets – the UK and Germany.

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