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2014’s most and least successful car companies

It’s been a good year in Britain for sales of new cars. With a near 10 per cent increase in sales compared to 2013, Britain is bucking the downward European trend. We’ve pored over the most recent data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) to bring you the motoring winners and losers of 2014.

As a general rule, things are looking rosy for most manufacturers with many reporting year-on-year sales increases. However, for a small handful, 2014 has been a tricky year in which they’ve struggled to keep pace with the rest of the industry. The tables below show the car makers that have shown the biggest growth in UK sales, and the biggest decline.

Underneath the tables we’ve examined some of these makers in more detail, giving a more detailed picture of what’s going on.

2014’s best manufacturers
Manufacturer Sales in Nov 2014 % change from 2013 to 2014
Mitsubishi 1,497 +251.41%
MG 170 +126.67%
Maserati 70 +118.75%
Ssangyong 124 +103.28%
Lexus 1,138 +84.74%
Lotus 42 +75%
Jeep 347 +45.19%
Volvo 3,613 +43.66%
2014’s worst manufacturers
Manufacturer Sales in Nov 2014 % change from 2013 to 2014
Chevrolet 0 -100%
Smart 130 -60.49%
Chrysler 52 -42.22%
Perodua 2 -33.33%
Aston Martin 41 -28.07%
Bentley 73 -27%
Alfa Romeo 374 -19.05%
Vauxhall 16,653 -15.33%


Winner – Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi is the overall winner of 2014 with a staggering 251.41 per cent increase in sales. The singular reason for this unprecedented success is the company’s ground-breaking Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Its unmatched blend of practical SUV bodystyle, zero-emissions electric operation and rugged all-wheel drive dependability has been a massive hit with money-conscious buyers.

Loser – Chevrolet

It’s slightly unfair to criticise Chevrolet because they’ve decided to pull out of the UK market for good, but you can’t ignore the fact that the company has failed to sell any cars in November 2014. It’s confirmed that it will continue to import the Camaro muscle car and Corvette supercar – though these only ever sold in very limited numbers. We hold hope, though, that with the Ford Mustang arriving next year, the Camaro may become more popular.

Winner – Jeep

There have been huge changes at Jeep parent company FiatChrysler Automotive in an attempt to stem the group’s losses. Chrysler is struggling in the UK with a 42.22 per cent drop in sales compared to last year, but Jeep has recently released some new models to tempt buyers. Both Cherokee and Grand Cherokee have been redesigned and a new compact SUV called the Renegade will arrive in 2015.

Losers – Aston Martin and Bentley

Two of the most iconic British luxury brands have struggled this year. Aston Martin suffered a 28.07 per cent drop in sales and Bentley dropped 27 per cent compared to last year. Aston is on the cusp of releasing a new chassis powered by new AMG-developed engines, but until then has been relying on its old platform and 6.0-litre V12 – damaging sales. Bentley, on the other hand, has had a few successful years so its market share could be levelling off – a forthcoming SUV should reverse that trend.

Winner – MG

It’d be fair to say MG has been limping for the last few years (and, for a brief time, didn’t even exist) but it’s seen a significant increase to its limited UK sales. It shifted 170 cars in November, representing a 126.67 per cent increase on the same month in 2013. This is arguably down to the new MG3 supermini. Critics agree it falls behind the competition in some key areas but it’s very cheap, relatively stylish and, reportedly, good to drive.

Loser – Smart

Mercedes‘ budget city car brand Smart has had a pretty poor year with a 60.49 per cent decrease in sales compared to last year. This could well be because it’s been relying on the old Fortwo (above) for a long time while the car has effectively been unchanged. The small car market has moved on greatly in recent years, leaving the Fortwo in the dust. Thankfully, a new model sharing the Renault Twingo’s platform is imminent that should see a boost in sales.

Winner – Maserati

Another company from the Fiat-Chrysler stable that was struggling was Maserati. By using old platforms and old engines the Italian brand’s cars fell way behind competition from Porsche and Mercedes. However, armed with a new chassis and Ferrari-developed V6 engines, the newly released Quattroporte and Ghibli saloons have been pushing sales back up to the tune of 118.75 per cent. With more models on the way this could grow even further.

Loser – Perodua

It feels a little wrong, picking on Perodua like this – but the UK market, frankly, isn’t interested in extreme budget cars anymore. The company’s only sold 29 cars in the whole of 2014 (2 in November) so it’s possible it could feasibly pull out of the British market soon. It’s a shame, because the company’s cars were never atrociously bad – but they simply don’t offer the style, quality and desirability demanded by British buyers.

Winner – Ssangyong

Who? – you may well ask, but the Korean company has been resolutely selling cars on our shores since 1994. Ssangyong only sold 124 cars in November, but this represents a 103.28 per cent increase on last year. The company has traded on cheap cars – the Turismo is one of the cheapest ways to get seven seats – but it wants to push upmarket with its new Tivoli SUV concept and is considering a name change to appeal to western buyers.

Loser – Alfa Romeo

A car company that many want to succeed but seems Alfa Romeo incapable of releasing a car to legitimately take on the class-leaders. The Giulietta has won some luke-warm praise but ultimately is nowhere near good enough to challenge the Volkswagen Golf. A 19.05 per cent drop in sales on last year isn’t disastrous but shows the company urgently needs to refresh its model line-up. New cars and platforms are due in 2016 so we hold out hope for a return to form.

Time to invest?

Now you know which brands to watch in 2015, head over to our homepage and pick yourself out a new car for the coming year. Will you follow the winners or shore up one of the losers?

A guaranteed winner of 2015 is the UK motorist with fuel prices tumbling for the first time in a long time. Take a look at our investigation into fuel prices and you might find out something surprising.

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