Best-selling cars in Britain 2020

July proved to be a strong month for car sales as consumers were unleashed onto the market following months of lockdown.

Simon Ostler
Aug 6, 2020

Click on the gallery above to look at the ten best-selling cars last month and how many they sold.

The month of July saw a dramatic rebound in the sales of new cars in the UK. Following a turbulent few months of uncertainty during the Covid-19 lockdown, car manufacturers were boosted by an astronomical rise in sales that saw registration numbers eclipse the previous year for the first time in 2020.

The floodgates finally opened for drivers looking to purchase a new car, and that demand was met by numerous finance offers from manufacturers keen to get the cash flowing at a time when uncertainty still looms large.

As a result, July registrations amounted to 174,887 and a 11.3% increase on July 2019. While overall numbers were up, the same trends continued when it came to fuel preference as diesel cars were down 25.9% while petrol remained stable, growing only 0.3%.

Despite everything, electric powered cars continued to see growth. Fully electric models in particular are proving much more popular than they did 12 months ago and that trend continued in July with 8,162 registrations a 259.4% increase year-on-year.

Their continued growth bodes well for the future of electric cars; over the entirety of 2019, 37,850 electric cars were registered - a growth of 144% on the 15,510 in 2018. As it stands, 2020 has seen 39,119 electric cars registered, more than double what was seen at the same point last year.

It was the Vauxhall Corsa that proved to be the most popular car in July - maintaining its status as the best-selling car ahead of the Ford Fiesta, while the Ford Focus completed the top three.

Hatchbacks remained the leading option for the majority of car buyers, as the Volkswagen Golf and Mercedes A-Class rounded out the top five, while family SUVs also continued to bring strong sales for manufacturers, with the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan and Ford Kuga all placing inside the top 10.

Despite the recent success of the Corsa, Ford strengthened its position in the overall market, taking a 10.76% share. Volkswagen took 8.93% ahead of Audi (6.87%) and BMW (6.54%) - Vauxhall only managed 5.59% of the overall market share.

Best-selling cars 2020

Best-selling cars in July 2020

Best-selling cars: the winners

It was Renault celebrating a strong month of sales, as the manufacturer saw 6,598 vehicles roll of its production line. That's a substantial increase compared to 2,187 in July 2019 (201.69%), and a welcome one off the back of recent released of the new Clio and Captur.

An encouraging list comprising Audi, BMW, Dacia, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Jeep, KiaLand RoverLexus, MG, Mini, Peugeot, Porsche, Seat, SsangYong, and Toyota all saw demand rise by at least 10% compared with February 2019. 

Best-selling cars: the fallers

Aside from Alpine, which only offers one model and therefore holds little stock in the general automotive market, it was Smart who suffered most in July sales. The manufacturer managed just 168 registrations over the month, leading to a year-on-year drop of 56.7% in market share.

A relatively short list of manufacturers that made losses of over 10% includes Alfa Romeo, Citroen, DSMaserati, Mercedes, Subaru and Suzuki.

Best-selling cars by fuel

Another month, and another drop in the sales of diesel cars. Even during a month that saw growth in every other section of the market, 28,844 diesels registrations amounted to a 25.9% drop year-on-year. Diesels made up just 16.5% of the overall market in July, 8.2% down on 12 months ago.

Overall diesel sales in 2016 reached 1.2 million, accounting for almost half of all new cars sold in the UK. But with diesel emissions coming under greater scrutiny, and the threat of diesel surcharges and taxes growing, demand has decreased dramatically. In 2018 new diesel car registrations had dropped to 750,165 and made up just 32% of the overall market. By the end of 2019, the proportion of new cars that are powered by diesel had fallen to just 22.7%, and that trend shows no sign of abating.

Petrol cars on the other hand now make up well over half of the UK's new car sales, while electric cars are now beginning to pick up some momentum. Electric alternatives are becoming an increasingly viable option for a growing percentage of drivers, a total of 8,162 electric cars were sold in July, up from 2,271 (a growth of 258.4%) this time last year.

Hybrids also made gains across the board, plug-in variants saw a rise of 5,675 sales compared to last year - a growth of 320.3% year-on-year, while mild hybrids also saw substantial gains during July - mild-hybrid petrols accounted for 10,253 registrations. Manufacturers planning to launch a raft of electric cars towards the end of 2020 will be hoping this trend continues.

Best-selling used cars

The latest SMMT used car sales figures released in November 2019 show that the Ford Fiesta remained the most popular car on the used market for the third quarter of 2019, with 90,428 cars changing hands.

As with the Fiesta's performance in new car sales, it appears totally unbeatable in the popularity stakes - as it was also the most popular used car for 2018 too, accruing 322,532 transactions for the year.

In total, 2,076,382 used cars found new homes during the third quarter of 2019 - down 0.8% compared to the previous year.

Also in keeping with new car trends, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric cars gained 13% year-on-year with used transactions totalling 37,589. In total, the share for these low-emission alternatives only accounted for 1.8% of all transactions - with conventional petrol and diesel engines making up 98.2% of the market. Petrol cars fell by 0.2% however, while diesel was slightly up by 1.4% year-on-year.


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