Check out the latest Life on Cars

Check out the latest Life on Cars

by Danielle Thompson (January 2022)

IN THE end, if the memorable mantra of Highlander is anything to go by, there can be only one. Unless it’s the question of who the UK’s best-selling carmaker is, in which case the answer’s a tad more complicated. 

The figures were released by the gatekeepers of Blighty’s car industry, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the other day, and on the face of it the answer is, for the first time ever, Volkswagen. More of you have bought Veedubs than cars from any other brand over the past 12 months, and that’s official. 

This isn’t some Dieselgate-esque dabbling with the numbers, where anyone fortunate enough to have taken delivery of a Bugatti Chiron or a Ducati motorcycle (or indeed anything else made by the wider Volkswagen empire) has been included in the final figure. It only counts if it’s got four wheels and a VW badge on the front, and according to the stats 147,826 of you snapped one up at some point in 2021. 

But its biggest seller, the Polo, is not Britain’s best-selling new car of 2021. In fact, with 30,634 of them being registered in the UK it’s actually in fifth place, with its bigger brother, the Golf, one place behind after racking up 30,240 new owners. The UK’s best-selling new car is – drumroll, please – the Vauxhall Corsa. Last year 40,914 of them found new homes across the UK, with the all-electric Corsa-e helping to push that tally up. 

At this point you might be feeling a bit sorry for Ford, who’ve been top dog for years and have grown fairly accustomed to the Fiesta being the nation’s number one… …but then Dagenham’s got an ace up its sleeve. You see, the Corsa is only the UK’s best-selling car. For the actual best-selling vehicle, you’ve got to think bigger and more practical, because Ford shifted 53,000 Transits last year. Chuck in its closely related people carrier cousin, the Tourneo, and the grand total is 56,750. Microchips – or rather, the lack of them – might be the answer here. Ford, like everyone else, didn’t have enough of them, so it stuck them in the more profitable vans rather than its superminis. 

But the real eye-opener, I reckon, is not what hit the number one spot but the runner-up. More of you bought Tesla Model 3s than you did MINIs, Nissan Qashqais, Volkswagen Polos or Kia Sportages, with more than a quarter of its 34,000 sales being in last month alone. In other words, an all-electric performance saloon that costs more than a BMW 5-Series comprehensively thrashed superminis and crossovers costing less than half the price when it comes to cold, hard sales figures. 

Tesla founder Elon Musk – already the world’s richest man - has said he wants to go to Mars, but I reckon he’s not being ambitious enough. With that sort of sales growth, he’ll be able to buy Mars… 

David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly

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