• Blue Oval drops 15,500 units year-on-year
  • That represents a huge 42.4% drop
  • Ford says figures will ‘correct’ in H2
  • But to add further complexity, Puma is June best seller

FORD, once the UK’s dominant force in car sales, has seen its registrations tumble in the first half of 2024. The US brand is sitting more than 15,500 units lower than it was a year ago, with more than 6,000 of that figure from its June numbers.

Ford has been underperforming the market for some time and has previously said this was because it wanted to sell cars profitably and not force the market. However, June’s 42.4% drop in registrations marks a significant downturn.

The manufacturer has previously stated it wouldn’t push EVs into the market against demand and that it wouldn’t pay penalties for missing the ZEV Mandate imposed Government targets for electric vehicles. The solution, according to Ford’s European electric car boss Martin Sander speaking earlier this year was to “take our shipments of [ICE] vehicles to the UK down and sell these vehicles somewhere else”. 

Sander has since moved roles and joined VW as sales and marketing boss.

A spokesman for Ford denied the drop in registrations was due to a deliberate restriction of ICE vehicles, and told Broker News:

“The figures are due to a combination of factors. Some of it is due to Fiesta production ending last year and while we did have a wholesale volume of those cars that has now gone. So there is a volume gap there. Plus there is the launch this year of the Explorer and there will be a second electric model coming along in the autumn.”

The spokesman added that Puma and Kuga were going through refreshes which added to the disruption, before saying:

“It’s very much a year of two halves and we’ll see the numbers correct themselves over the rest of the year.”

Ford currently has a market share for the first half of 2024 of 5.6%, although for June this figure was 4.7%. Five years ago, before the Covid-19 pandemic, Ford’s had a 10.1% market share with 2019’s H1 total of nearly 128,000 new cars registered. The 2024 H1 figure for Ford is 56,735 new cars.

This may not seem like a fair comparison given the UK’s total market is running down approximately 260,000 units today compared with 2019’s figure. However, as a comparison, Volkswagen, the current UK best-selling brand is almost level on market share over the same period and is down around 27,000 units against Ford’s 71,000 car drop.

Despite all the bad news for Ford, it currently holds the top spot in the new car table with the Puma, which is the UK’s best-selling car.

It’s not just Ford, look at Toyota

Toyota CorollaFord isn’t the only brand suffering in the UK market this year. Year-to-date, the second biggest faller is Toyota – the Corolla is pictured left – with a drop of almost 5,000 units over the first six months of 2024. However, Toyota did see a stronger performance in June with a gain of more than 1,600 cars.

Stellantis, which had started to see a mild improvement this year was hit by a significant drop in Vauxhall registrations in June. 

Overall, the eight Stellantis car brands are up 530 units this year, however, Vauxhall (the group’s largest volume brand) dropped 3,679 units this June compared with June 2023 and year-to-date is now down just more than 4,000 cars. However, Peugeot, Abarth, DS and Fiat also all saw falls in June.

At the top of the table, BMW is by far the biggest volume winner gaining more than 17,500 units in the first half of 2024. The next biggest gaining brands are Renault and Nissan with 11,321 and 9,627 unit increases respectively.

Top five growing brands H1 2024

Bottom five shrinking brands H1 2024

1 BMW +17,552

2 Renault +11,321

3 Nissan +9,627

4 Mercedes +8,952

5 Volvo +5,545

5 Porsche -3,268

4 Polestar -4,122

3 Vauxhall -4,181

2 Toyota -4,928

1 Ford -15,693

Graphic showing the choice of fuel percentages for June 2024 new car registrations

Overall market hits 1m in H1

June’s new car registration figures were up 1.1% on the same month in 2023 resulting in the year-to-date figure being up 6.0% over the first half of 2024. Total registrations hit 1.0 million cars in the first six months.

However, this rise is being powered by fleet and business registrations. Fleet units are up more than 22% so far this year, while retail sales are down 12%.

These numbers may look good for the company car and broker markets, however, several retailers and industry insiders that spoke to Broker News said a large proportion of this growth has been forced through high cost channels such as Motability, daily rental and manufacturers’ own employee schemes.

June Sales 2024 and YTD cars

Source: SMMT

24 months of growth

James Hosking, Director of AA Cars, added: “The new car market is now within touching distance of an extraordinary milestone – two whole years of uninterrupted monthly increases in sales.

“Demand has evolved during that time, and fleet sales are now firmly in the driving seat. Bulk sales to businesses are more than offsetting the weaker sales to consumers, which continue to be squeezed by many people’s cautious attitude to spending on ‘big ticket’ items like cars.

“Sharply rising rents and mortgage costs over the past two years have left millions of Britons with less disposable income, and as a result many are holding onto their cars for longer or opting for a second-hand rather than a brand new model when the time comes to change.

“Yet for all that the market is in good health, and at the halfway point of 2024, sales are comfortably higher than they were during the first half of 2023. Sales of EVs and hybrid cars continue to climb, and as diesel sales fall away, EVs and hybrids are now the second and third most popular types of new cars sold in the UK.

“Looking ahead, the key will be when, not if, interest rates start to fall. With some analysts predicting that the Bank of England could start to reduce rates as early as next month, the prospect of lower borrowing costs will make it easier and cheaper for drivers to use finance to spread the cost of their next car – and this should help boost demand further.”

June 2024 best sellers cars

Read our new car market analysis of May 2024 registrations

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