Best-selling cars in Britain 2018

Ford's Fiesta tops the table of the best-selling cars in Britain during October 2018 as sales of electric cars surge

BuyaCar team
Nov 14, 2018

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

The Ford Fiesta remains Britain's best-selling car by far and looks set to be the most popular new car in 2018 after yet another month at the top of the sales charts.

More than 5,500 new cars were registered in October, which is a higher number than the Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Corsa combined, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the industry body.

Sales of diesel cars continued to drop in October but electric cars were temporarily boosted by the announcement that the electric car grant would be cut. It resulted in sales almost doubling, as buyers raced to take advantage of the £4,500 subsidy before it was reduced to £3,500.

There was also a large sales increase for plug-in hybrid cars, which can run for several miles on electric power but also have a petrol or diesel engine to take over when the batteries run out. The grant for these cars was abolished entirely, sparking another surge in orders before funding ran out.

Overall car sales dropped slightly in October, as 153,599 cars were registered, according to the SMMT data. This was down by 4,593 on last year -  a drop of 2.9 per cent. This was entirely accounted for by a 20 per cent decline in sales of diesel cars, with 49,061 registered. They now account for three in ten new cars, compared with half of all new car sales three years ago. Petrol car sales increased to 93,941, a rise of 7.1 per cent.

Several manufacturers bucked the trend of declining sales, with large increases in the number of new cars registered. Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mini and Mazda were among those with an increase of 30 per cent or more. Some brands that are about to launch new versions of best-selling cars saw sales slump, though. The number of new Audi (new A1 and Q3); DS (new DS 3 Crossback) and Porsche (new 911) models registered in October was reduced by more than 50 per cent. 


Best-selling cars 2018

Best-selling cars in October

Best-selling cars, year-to-date


Best-selling cars: the winners

Jaguar's new E-Pace (above) helped the brand to boost new car sales from 1,827 to 3,324 in October: a rise of 82 per cent.

MG might have sold far fewer cars (783), but this represented a far higher rate of growth, as it's 304 per cent higher than the 194 car sold last year, thanks to the company's latest tall crossover car called ZS.

Elsewhere, the updated Mini Hatchback helped sales at the British-based company to a 63 per cent increase, while the end of the electric car grant for plug-in hybrid cars delivered a doubling of sales for Mitsubishi, thanks to a rush of buyers ordering its Outlander plug-in hybrid model before funds ran out.


Best-selling cars: the fallers

Audi has announced its new A1 (pictured), as well as a new Q3 crossover car. They are among the company's most popular models, but neither are being delivered yet, which is likely to be a major reason why Audi's sales slumped to 6,487 in October - a 53 per cent drop from the 13,699 cars that were registered last october.

Demand for models from DS - Citroen's luxury brand - tumbled by 61 per cent, as just 173 cars were registered. The company will be hoping that this trend will reverse when a replacement for its popular DS 3 arrives next year.

Another luxury brand in the doldrums is Infiniti. The upmarket arm of Nissan registered just 22 cars last month. Even Bentley, McLaren and Lotus had more customers.


Best-selling used cars

The latest SMMT used cars sales figures, released in November, shows that the Ford Fiesta (above) is also the most popular car on the used market: 93,260 used Fiestas changed hands between July and September 2018, ahead of the 84,014 Ford Focus models in second place.

Vauxhall then followed with its Corsa (80,789 sales), the Volkswagen Golf is fourth (68,614), and the Vauxhall Astra rounds off the top five (66,942).

In total, 2.06 million used cars were sold in July, August and September, which is slightly down on the 2.1 million sold during the same period last year.


Best-selling cars by fuel

Customers continue to avoid diesel cars, with even more drivers deserting the fuel in favour of petrol, hybrid or electric models.

More than 91,000 diesel cars hit the roads in October 2015, accounting for just over half of all cars sold in that month. But as diesel emissions came under scrutiny and the threat of diesel surcharges and taxes grew, so demand decreased. Two years later, in October 2017, new diesel car registrations had dropped to 62,349 and made up 40 per cent of the market.

The decline shows no sign of abating, as new diesel cars only made up just 32 per cent of new car registrations in October this year, with numbers falling below 50 per cent.

In comparison, changes to the electric car grant meant that buyers bought cars early to secure the subsidy before funding ran out. Electric car orders were running at 300 per day - compared with 22 per day the previous October - and some of the cars have already been delivered, boosting sales of electric cars from 672 to 1,256.

Many of these cars will be delivered in the coming months, so figures are likely to remain high for the rest of the year. It's the same story for plug-in hybrid cars, after the announcement that new car buyers would no longer receive a subsidy at all. October new car registrations increased from 2,896 to 3,448 after a similar rise in orders. Most of these cars are still to be delivered.

New petrol car registrations rose from 87,720 to 93,941 in October, but the 7 per cent rise wasn't enough to make up for the sharp drop in diesel sales.


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