February car market: Vauxhall slumps, JLR soars


The UK car market saw some dramatic changes in fortune in February.

The main winner was Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). Thanks to the launch of the Evoque, Land Rover sales rose by 36% year-to-date, with Jaguar sales going up by a rather more modest 3%.

We tend to think of JLR as a niche manufacturer, but it is starting to become a major player. So far this year, it is outselling such mainstream brands as Fiat, Honda and Renault and has a record market share of 2.9%. In more good news for British factories, Nissan is up 18% and is now easily the leading Japanese brand, which is excellent for the Sunderland plant.

Other winners include the value brands, Hyundai, Kia and Skoda who are now in 11th, 12th and 13th place respectively. It could well be that one of them makes the Top 10 list by the end of the year - the first time a value brand has ever done so well in the UK.

However, things are not so rosy at Vauxhall, where sales fell by 24%. This is not because people have suddenly fallen out of love with Astras or Corsas. It seems to be related to the woes of parent company, General Motors Europe (GME). GME appears to have taken the decision to cut back on discounts and the result is slumping sales, especially for the Insignia.

The other big loser is Renault (down 26%), as the company drops so many models from its UK line-up. The Wind, Modus, Laguna and Espace are no longer on sale, leaving just the Scenic, Megane and Clio as mainstream competitors.