Best-selling cars in Britain 2020

New car registrations continue to flounder post-lockdown, although the impending introduction of 70-plates may be a cause for optimism

Simon Ostler
Sep 14, 2020

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

The post lock-down boom in new car registrations did not last long, as August saw total registrations drop to just 87,226 during what is traditionally a quiet month for sales as drivers anticipate the arrival of 70-plate models.

A drop of 5.8% (5,347 cars) compared to August 2019 can be mostly attributed to a reduction in new cars being required for fleets and business use, as the majority of the UK continues to operate from home in these uncertain times.

Despite this, the electric car market continued to see growth, with 5,589 registrations over the month amounting to an increase of 2,442 compared to August 2019. This is promising for the future of electric cars, although they currently make up just 4.9% of the total market.

The hybrid car market also made headway on petrol and diesel competition, plug-in hybrids, self-charging hybrids and mild hybrids combined amounted to a larger market share than diesel power, although petrol models remain ultimately popular with over half of all cars sold in August running on petrol power.

It was once again the Ford Fiesta taking the crown as the best-selling car in August by quite a distance, as Ford also made strong sales with the Focus and the new Puma crossover.

The new Volkswagen Golf continued its strong start to life with another strong month, while the Vauxhall Corsa that held the to spot in July saw a marked fall in August. SUVs, meanwhile, continue to prove popular despite question marks over their environmental impact, with the Volkswagen TiguanFord Kuga and Kia Niro all placing inside the top 10.

Ford continues to dominate the market with four models making the top ten best-sellers in August, so it's no surprise the manufacturer saw its overall market share rise again to 12.43%. Only Volkswagen (10.08%) were able to provide any kind of competition.

Best-selling cars 2020

Best-selling cars in August 2020

Best-selling cars: the winners

It was MG celebrating a relatively strong month of sales, as the manufacturer saw 1,010 vehicles roll of its production line. That's a substantial increase compared to 663 in July 2019 (52.34%).

An relatively short list comprising AbarthBMW, Dacia, Fiat, HyundaiKiaLand RoverMini, NissanRenault and Skoda all saw demand rise by at least 10% compared with August 2019. 

Best-selling cars: the fallers

Alfa Romeo had a horrible month in August, achieving just 77 registrations and posting a year-on-year drop in demand of 62.98%. It's not the only manufacturer struggling to sell cars in 2020, but Alfa will be hoping for better fortunes towards the end of the year.

A long list of manufacturers that made losses of over 10% includes Alpine, Audi, BentleyDS, Honda, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Seat, Smart, SsangYongSubaru and Suzuki and Volkswagen.

Best-selling cars by fuel

Another month, and another drop in the sales of diesel cars. Just 14,296 diesel registrations amounted to a massive 39.5% drop year-on-year. Diesel power made up just 16.4% of the overall market in August, 9.1% 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 5,589 electric cars were sold in August, up from 3,147 (a growth of 77.6%) this time last year.

Hybrids also made gains across the board, plug-in variants saw a rise of 2,012 sales compared to last year - a growth of 221.1% year-on-year, while mild hybrids also saw substantial gains during August - mild-hybrid petrols accounted for 6,528 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 August 2020 show that the Ford Fiesta remained the most popular car on the used market for the second quarter of 2020, with 41,778 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 2019 too, accruing 351,767 transactions for the year.

In total, 1,039,303 used cars found new homes during the second quarter of 2020 - down 48.9% compared to the previous year as the global pandemic rears its head once again.


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