The UK car market turned in its best ever sales performance in 2015, the fourth consecutive year of growth. Thanks to a 6.3 per cent rise in demand, 2,633,503 cars were registered, according to industry trade body the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders), beating the previous record set back in 2003.
Diesels couldn’t quite repeat their market dominance of 2014, when they achieved 50.1 per cent of total sales, but they still accounted for a respectable 48.5 per cent after growth of 3.0 per cent to 1,276,871 units.
Alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) sales, meanwhile, grew 40.3 per cent, albeit from a low base, securing their biggest ever market share of 2.8 per cent. Plug-in hybrids experienced particularly strong growth, with volumes more than doubling, while pure electric vehicle sales surged by about 50 per cent.
Traditional market leader Ford sold 335,267 cars, up 2.6 per cent from 326,643 in 2014. Ford also claimed the top sales spot for individual car models, shifting a total of 133,434 Fiestas, although Vauxhall’s Corsa (92,077) beat the Focus (83,816) to grab second place.
Another manufacturer reporting improved sales was BMW Group which achieved 230,972 BMW and MINI registrations, an increase of 14 per cent over 2014. MINI sales, at 63,581, were the best since BMW relaunched the brand back in 2001.
Jaguar Land Rover also had a good year, achieving more than 100,000 registrations in the UK market for the first time, thanks to Jaguar selling 30.2 per cent more cars and Land Rover shifting 18.5 per cent more units. New models such as the Jaguar XE and XF and Land Rover Discovery Sport accounted for much of the improvement.
Renault car sales were up by 14.0 per cent to 75,618 vehicles, with the electric Zoe representing a particular bright spot thanks to sales up 102 per cent to 2,266. Sister brand Dacia’s sales grew 9.9 per cent to 26,228 vehicles.
Nissan sold 153,937 cars, an increase of 11.3 per cent. Sales of the all-electric Leaf were up 28.6 per cent to 5,236.
Audi set a new UK sales record of 166,709 cars, an increase of 4.9 per cent compared with 2014.
The fastest growing car brand in the UK, though, was Jeep, which sold 176 per cent more cars in 2015 than it did the year before – although 2015 was also the year Jeep’s stablemate Chrysler departed the UK market. GM brand Chevrolet left the UK in 2015 as well.
Other losers were few in the buoyant 2015 market but Fiat (down 4.3 per cent) and Honda (down 0.24 per cent) gave up a small amount of ground compared with 2014.