Most popular cars: a decade of change

8 May, 2014 11:32am Jack Rix

The past 10 years have seen a huge shake-up in the types and brand of cars we buy in the UK

We've always said the motor industry is one of the quickest-evolving marketplaces out there, and now we can show you what we mean.

Our figures chart the trends over 10 years in the industry to 2013 – and it’s clear the types of cars we’re buying have changed radically. In 2004, when a total of 2.6m were sold (compared to 2.25m in 2013), petrol cost around 80p a litre, so it’s no surprise luxury and sports cars sold better back then.

Taking their place are city cars (which have seen a huge 122 per cent rise) and SUVs – although the advent of crossovers means 2013’s SUVs are a world away from 2004’s gas-guzzlers.

Most popular car brands

Individual brands have fared differently, too, with Hyundai and Kia enjoying major growth, and Renault suffering a slow decline.

UK market newcomers’ 2013 sales


In its first year in the UK, Dacia sold 17,146 cars, spread between the Duster and Sandero initially. The range has since grown to include the Sandero Stepway and Logan MCV, and bosses expect further rapid growth in 2014.


The nine UK Infiniti dealers shifted under 400 cars last year. Yet the brand’s still eyeing 1,000 sales in 2014 and has big plans, with the Q50 now on sale, Q30 due in 2015 and new diesel, hybrid and petrol engines also coming.


Sales of just over 500 show MG is another slow starter. But it’s shifted 750 cars already this year – the arrival of a diesel MG6 and new MG3 have helped – and is aiming for 4,000 sales by more than doubling its 44-dealer network.

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Prediction for the future: lines between superminis and city cars will be blurred further and more city cars will be sold. i10, Twingo, VW UP! and Clones, PSA/Toyota offerings are very competent little vehicles with enough interior space to serve most needs and they are cheaper to tax, insure and run than superminis.

I'm sure the Prius tops the list for the ugliest car and the most sold.

Kia\Hyundai, Skoda and Audi doubled or nearly doubled their sales in a decade. That's impressive growth figures. On the other end Renault, Honda and Jaguar lost sales equally spectacularly and have their work cut out.
And for once I agree with the Autoexpress: Dacia, MG and Infiniti are the potential brands to watch out for exponential growth. Price hero Dacia has already made swift in-roads into our car-scape and it's success will likely continue.

These are UK figures only, don't forget - Jaguar in particular are shifting 10 times the amount of vehicles that they did in 2004, albeit mainly to export. For Jaguar, 2004 was the heyday of the relatively high-volume (and low profit) X-Type too. I doubt they're losing any sleep! Agree that Dacia are to grow further, but MG and Infinity face an uphill struggle with their current ranges.

Poor result for Proton!

I remember they were reasonable sellers on the basis of having cheap Mitsubishi based vehicles.

A decade ago the MPIs and Personas were common sights on the road.

The rate modern cars are being super sized into obese proportions it won't be long before the Fiat 500 and VW UP! will be as large as the current Range Rover. So called normal compact cars are now 2m and wider! Sports cars have grown wider as well but the existing road network has not increased with most country lanes at 4m wide or less - no wonder there are fewer overtaking opportunities and so sports car sales slump. No doubt accident rates and beyond economic repair write offs will increase as eventually drivers will lose all sense of spacial awareness and side swipe each other on A roads or be unable to extracate themselves from shopping car parks! VED/Road tax should be based on vehicle obesity - weight : under 1000kg and 1.8m width free and anything over the car BMI to be charged at ever higher rates. This would reduce fuel consumption, reduce congestion and allow cyclists and sportscar owners to enjoy the roads again!

Exactly the way Dacia are going to head too. Proton sold like hotcakes for the first few years, then at resale time, owners got a shock at the depreciation and shied away, resulting in a monumental flop now! All because of dated tech, and the fact they hammered on about the low-priced entry model price, which people will always remember. No matter how much you spend speccing up a sandero, it will always be a £5995 when new car so resale for higher spec models will suffer badly.