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As expected, following the third national lockdown in the UK from January 5th 2021, the sales of new cars in the first month of the year have been slow. Despite many motor dealers still offering 'click and collect' and delivery services, the UK consumers desire and confidence may be understandably low at the moment.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) confirmed that 90,249 motor cars were registered as new across UK dealerships in January 2021. This represents a fall of 59,030 compared to January 2020.
The vehicle types' breakdown does show a sizeable shift away from more traditional petrol and diesel cars to fully electric and hybrid models. Compared to the same period in 2020, petrol and diesel cars' sales were down 52% and 61% respectively. Countering this, the sale of fully electric (EV's) went up 54% and hybrids 28%.
Top selling new cars in January 2021 in the UK (by registrations)*
- Vauxhall Corsa - 3078
- Kia Sportage - 2986
- Nissan Qashqai - 2835
- Ford Fiesta - 2594
- Volvo XC40 - 2201
- Mercedes-Benz A-Class - 1859
- Volkswagen Golf - 1779
- Ford Puma - 1760
- Kia Niro - 1741
- Ford Focus - 1686
*Figures from SMMT
The top ten places provide both a continuing trend for some models but also some surprise inclusions.
The Vauxhall Corsa had a strong finish in the sales figures in 2020. This left the model second only to the Ford Fiesta for the overall sales last year. A strong start to 2021 will be encouraging, especially with its rival from 2020 suffering with a stuttering start.
The Kia Sportage hovered around the top ten places in 2020. To start 2021 in the second position is extremely promising for the SUV.
The perennial Nissan Qashqai completes the top three spots. With a new version due later in 2021, the best selling Nissan model promises, once again, to provide another top 10 finish.
To see the Ford Fiesta only in the fourth spot will come as a shock to many. However, this is only January, so there is plenty of time for last years winner to make up lost ground.
Volvo's XC40 is one of the older models in the top ten. Another that hovered around tenth place throughout 2020, starting 2021 in fifth place, is encouraging for the Swedish manufacturer.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class begins in 2021 with sixth place in January. This followed up a fifth-place finish for 2020. A consistent performance sees it ahead of rivals in the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf so far.
Seeing the VW Golf in a seventh-place represents a slow start to 2021. Compared to the overall third spot achieved in 2020, the german manufacturers best selling brand may also come under pressure from the impressive ID.3 electric in-house rival this year.
Only being introduced in 2020 did not hinder the Ford Puma from attaining an honourable ninth place in the 2020 end of the year sales list. With a slightly better start to 2020, could the latest Ford model challenge the best selling SUV of 2021?
Featuring in the Top 10 for the first time, the Kia Niro range includes options for plug-in hybrid, mild hybrid and fully electric models. With the market as a whole moving toward electric options, the Niro may become a fixture in the top spots for years to come.
Completing the top 10 is the Ford Focus. Once upon a time, it was almost impossible to move the Focus Focus off the number one spot. 2020 saw the model finished in the fourth spot overall. Could a weak start to 2021 see the Focus end up outside the top 10 places for the very first time?
It is early days, of course, and as showrooms begin to reopen (hopefully) later in 2021, we may see a different picture emerge. However, the signs are that the UK car market may be shifting and some manufacturers may be better placed to seize the advantage.