Despite a backdrop of uncertainty and political ups and downs
Britain’s car builders are the busiest they’ve been since the turn of the millennium.
Exports drove the UK’s industry in March, with demand up 10.6% in the month, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
In total 170,691 cars were built in the UK in March, up 7.3%, with overseas buyers ordering more than 76% of that output.
That foreign demand helped push overall production to a 17-year high in the first quarter of this year to 471,695 units – an increase of 7.6%. And that’s despite a domestic demand drop of 4.3% in the quarter.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “UK car manufacturing is accelerating thanks to billions of pounds of investment committed over the past few years.
“A large proportion are the latest low emission diesels and it’s essential for future growth and employment that we encourage these newer, cleaner diesels onto UK roads and avoid penalising consumers who choose diesel for its fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions.
“Much of our output goes to Europe and it’s vital we maintain free trade between the UK and EU or we risk destroying this success story.”
The first quarter of 2017 was also a record for engine manufacturing, with the 700,000-unit figure being passed for the first time, up 11.4% year-on-year. Output rose by a fifth in March to 271,359 units.
So when it comes to car sales, what are the success stories? Here we look at the top five top-selling cars in the UK in the first three months of 2017.
Ford Fiesta – 38,205
I doubt many of us can remember a time when the Ford Fiesta wasn’t Britain’s best-selling car, because it’s felt like forever.
The little legend continues to be the motor that appeals to British buyers most, thanks to good looks, great engines, an engaging drive and some very good finance deals.
It’s still Britain’s most popular motor by some distance.
Ford Focus – 23,886
And hot on the Fiesta’s heels – well, actually, 15,000 sales back – is its bigger brother, the Focus.
Since replacing the Escort two decades ago (yes, really), the Focus has been a huge seller for Ford and continues to be so.
With continued engine innovations and a model to suit all needs, there’s no sign of that slowing down.
Vauxhall Corsa – 21,305
A model so successful that Vauxhall doesn’t even need to replace it that often.
The Corsa can last as long as eight years between replacements because it’s a real workhorse for Luton’s finest.
Much like the Fiesta, it’s efficiency, choice and great value that keeps the Corsa in this list constantly.
Volkswagen Golf – 19,232
One that needs little introduction, the Golf is popular with those looking for something a little more special than a daily runabout.
High specs, top-quality interiors, efficient engines and performance variants mean there is a wide appeal for the legendary Golf.
Nissan Qashqai – 19,071
While the top four best-sellers in the UK have been established for two, three or even four decades, the Qashqai is still a relative newcomer.
Launched in 2007, it started the SUV boom and is still king of the castle.
That said, with rivals continuing to go all-out for a slice of this ever-expanding and ever-competitive market, Nissan will have to keep working hard to keep the Qashqai, which is just about starting to need a refresh, ahead of the game.