Winners and losers 2023: New car market round-up

Winners and losers 2023: New car market round-up



The UK's new car market is slowly recovering, but some brands came out better – or worse – than the pack

The latest data from the UK car industry has revealed that Lexus now has a bigger market share than Jaguar, Cupra is on course to overtake its older sibling Seat and Stellantis premium brands Alfa Romeo and DS face a crisis as their volumes shrunk in a buoyant market.

These are just some of the highlights from the data revealed in the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)'s latest car sales report, which outlines the market share of every mainstream car manufacturer up to November 2023. 

Here we reveal the biggest takeaways and detail the performance of every brand selling cars in the UK. 

*Lexus overtakes Jaguar*

Jaguar again recorded a 0.75% market share, and its volume was up by nearly 2000 cars, to 13,167, in spite of its ageing line-up.

Lexus has faced similar challenges to Jaguar in recent years, with a laudable yet uncompetitive range of premium saloons and SUVs.

However, this year its market share rose from 0.61% to 0.81%, with 14,081 sales. It’s likely to have been helped by the arrival of the new NX and RX, each competing in the big-selling medium and large SUV segments.

Expect the Japanese brand to repeat similar growth in 2024, following the arrival of the LBX, a luxurious take on the critical B-segment SUV. It believes it can sell 5000-10,000 LBXs in the UK annually.

Should Lexus fully realise that ambition, its market share could quite easily sit north of 1%. That would establish it as the firm leader of the pack, behind Germany’s big three.

For Jaguar, the only way is down the charts. It’s going to axe all of its existing models by 2025, transitioning into a maker of low-volume, high-profit electric cars. The first of the bunch, a four-door grand tourer, will be unveiled next year.

*Stellantis's premium brands in crisis*

Trouble has long been brewing for Alfa Romeo and DS, but 2023 was especially dire.

Each brand’s sales volume dipped, despite the overall market improving by 18.6% year on year. In turn, Alfa’s market share fell from 0.10% to 0.08% and DS’s fell from 0.23% to 0.13%. 

That was despite pushing important new models for each brand, with Alfa launching the Tonale crossover and DS ramping up the 4 hatchback.

It comes as Maria Grazia Davino, Stellantis UK’s incumbent managing director, admits there are “major operational problems” rooted in the several ongoing mergers that comprise Stellantis.

Davino recently told Autocar that DS “has a long way to go” and that more must be done to build awareness of the French brand. She believes Alfa’s situation to be similar: “The brand is good, products good, performance not.”

Only time will tell whether next year’s arrival of on-trend electric cars for either brand – another variant of the 4 and the new Alfa Romeo Milano  – will reverse their troubles.

In both cases, it’s a tall task.

*Cupra catches up to Seat*

One of the biggest stories of 2023 was the protracted winding down of Seat. As it slowly moves into the dubious world of ‘mobility’, sporting spin-off Cupra picks up the car-making reins.

It has faced much scrutiny, but there is a logic to the move. Cupras cost little more to make yet attract much higher purchase prices. For example, a Seat Leon 1.5 TSI Evo 150 FR costs £28,135. A Cupra Leon with the same engine in similar V1 trim is £2010 more.

That extra revenue is the reason why both brands’ owner, the Volkswagen Group, is backing Cupra so strongly.

And the buying public also seems to be on board with the new Spanish brand: its sales grew by 76.3% to 23,383, and in turn its market share rose to 1.33%.

Meanwhile, Seat sales increased by 42.5%, to 28,741. That puts its market share at 1.63% – and Cupra well within touching distance for 2024.

The launch of the Cupra Tavascan – as well as facelifts for the Leon and Formentor and the addition of a high-performance VZ variant of the Born – could be the spark that Cupra needs to make it happen.

*Polestar surges amid uptick in EV registrations*

It has been a year of peaks and troughs in the UK’s electric car market. Year-on-year, EV sales volumes are up by 27.5%, to 286,846.

However, their market share hasn’t grown in the near-exponential manner seen over the past few years. They now represent 16.3% of the UK’s entire new car market, up just 1.2% compared with last year.

Nonetheless, Polestar made great strides toward contending as a major player: its sales grew by 83.3%, to 11,441 cars.

Its market share now sits at 0.65%, magnitudes greater than similarly conceived Genesis (0.07%) and nearing brands anchored by ICE cars, such as Lexus (0.81%) and Jaguar (0.75%).

Of course, there's still much work to be done before it can rival Tesla (2.50%) or parent firm Volvo (2.61%), let alone Germany’s big three luxury brands, which all sit north of 4.50%.

The completion of Polestar’s line-up with a luxury SUV, a family crossover and a luxury saloon – the Polestar 3, Polestar 4 and Polestar 5 respectively –  will doubtless help it along.

*MG’s meteoric rise continues*

MG is perhaps the greatest success story of the past five years, taking its market share from a measly 0.38% to 4.23% over that period.

The Chinese brand now sells more cars in the UK than Peugeot (3.37%) and Skoda (3.67%) and is nearing Hyundai (4.65%) too.

The success of the eminently affordable MG 4 EV in the electric car market has helped MG to make an impact in perception as much as raw sales counts, which are up 54.9% year on year to 74,524.

Autocar understands that MG had already cracked the 80,000-car milestone by early December – almost doubling its 2022 tally of 48,123.

A big year lies ahead as it refreshes several high-volume sellers: the 4 is due a new interior, while the MG HS SUV and MG 3 supermini will be replaced by all-new cars. It’s also launching the Cyberster, an electric roadster, as a halo model.

Should the new line-up prove competent (a likelihood, given the strength of MG’s existing metal), it could well follow Kia in cracking the 100,000-car mark sooner than you think.

*How did new car brands perform in 2023?*


One of China’s top makers of plug-in hybrid and electric cars got off to a shaky start in the UK, registering just 895 cars.

That's probably down to it selling only one model, the Atto 3 crossover, while having limited brand awareness and dealer presence.

Expect it to make great strides in 2024 with the complete roll-out of the Dolphin hatchback, set to become the UK’s cheapest proper electric car, and the Seal saloon, a rival to the Tesla Model 3.


This isn’t the Chevrolet you knew a decade ago, selling rebadged Daewoos. It returned to the UK this year selling the Corvette in right-hand-drive form for the first time, priced from £92,890. 

That it has sold 102 over the past year is quite remarkable, given the Corvette’s limited appeal as an expensive, impractical, gas-guzzling V8 supercar.

It’s likely to follow the trajectory that Alpine has over the past few years, selling a consistent small volume of a specialist car, maintaining elements of intrigue and exclusivity.

*GWM Ora*

Great Wall Motors (GWM) launched a new assault on the UK with the Ora Funky Cat, a curious if somewhat incompetent electric hatchback.

Since its launch in late 2022, it has registered 901 examples of the Funky Cat, putting it on a par with fellow Chinese firm BYD.

There are stormclouds on the horizon, however: several new and nearly new examples of the Funky Cat are already heavily discounted, suggesting there isn’t much demand for them.

Moreover, GWM recently dropped the Ora Funky Cat name in favour of GWM Ora 03. Whether that will propel the car to success is yet to be seen, but we wouldn’t gamble on it. 


The rough-and-ready Ineos Grenadier is a polarising car, but its early success can't be denied. In total, 841 examples of the 4x4 have been sold, almost matching Maserati’s 858 sales.

The arrival of the Quartermaster pick-up should provide a helpful boost through 2024.

*How major car brands performed in 2023 – by David Francis*

*Alfa Romeo*

*2022 market share *0.10%

*2023 market share *0.08%

The Tonale crossover arrived to give sales a big boost, but all that happened is Giulia and Stelvio sales fell accordingly.


*2022 market share *0.02%

*2023 market share *0.02%

Alpine is bravely keeping the flame alive for lightweight, driver-focused sports cars, but the torrents of SUVs and EVs aren’t helping.

*Aston Martin*

*2022 market share *0.07%

*2023 market share *0.05%

Given that the DBX SUV is now fully established, Aston should be doing better. It’s still losing money, while DB12 production difficulties are limiting sales. 


*2022 market share *6.82%

*2023 market share *7.26%

After five years of problems, from Euro 6 to chip shortages, Audi is finally powering ahead. The A3 could finish up as the best-selling C-segment hatch.


*2022 market share *0.10%

*2023 market share *0.07%

Sales worldwide and in the UK are down a bit, but it still has a profit margin of more than 20%, as each car it does sell is more customisable than ever.


*2022 market share *6.73%

*2023 market share *5.75%

BMW has lost significant share. It says it’s focused on profit, not volume. The most surprising fact is that the 4 Series now outsells the 3 Series.


*2022 market share *1.76%

*2023 market share *1.63%

Its best-seller is the C3, yet that’s in only 10th position of the B-segment hatchbacks. The Aircross SUVs barely count as even mid-table performers. 


*2022 market share *0.89%

*2023 market share *1.33%

The Formentor and Born are big successes. VW loves Cupra: its cars are made in Seat factories but sold at much higher prices.


*2022 market share *1.69%

*2023 market share *1.44%

A surprising dip this year, but don’t bet against Dacia: the new Duster SUV and Spring EV will arrive in 2024 to boost sales.


*2022 market share *0.23%

*2023 market share *0.13%

DS was the future once. Now it struggles to sell more than 1000 examples per year of any single model. A decade ago, the 3 supermini sold 20,000 a year.


*2022 market share *0.06%

*2023 market share *0.05%

One of the very few brands that knows exactly how many cars it will sell in future: production, it says, is sold out until 2026.


*2022 market share *1.32%

*2023 market share *0.96%

Fiat is effectively a two-model brand now; a niche city car brand rather than a mainstream manufacturer. Sales of the 500e have dropped more than 50%, which hasn’t helped its share – which is at its lowest since the 1960s. 


*2022 market share *7.86%

*2023 market share *7.68%

The Puma will probably finish the year as the UK’s best-seller, but Ford will almost certainly never again be the number-one manufacturer: its model range is far too narrow for that now.


*2022 market share *0.06%

*2023 market share *0.07%

Not a disastrous start but not a great one either. Its best-seller is the GV60 EV, but even that’s struggling against the likes of the Ford Mustang Mach-E.


*2022 market share *1.49%

*2023 market share *1.36%

The new HR-V increased sales, but it’s still outside the top 10 of B-segment crossovers. The new hybrid ZR-V and electric e:Ny1 crossovers have a lot of work to do.


*2022 market share *4.98%

*2023 market share *4.65%

The petrol-engined models are doing well, but the original Ioniq has been dropped and the new EVs haven’t taken up the slack.


*2022 market share *0.75%

*2023 market share *0.75%

The F-Pace is still doing good business but the I-Pace is fading – a great design that hasn’t kept up. Jaguar’s rebirth as a luxury EV brand can’t come soon enough.


*2022 market share *0.16%

*2023 market share *0.16%

After 20 years of Jeep being the most underperforming brand in the UK market, the new Avenger might live up to its name and make up for recent horrors.


*2022 market share *6.21%

*2023 market share *5.91%

Kia may not improve its share this year, but considering that it had 3.2% of the market just 10 years ago, it’s still an excellent result.


*2022 market share *0.04%

*2023 market share *0.03%

Share has been at record levels, thanks to the Urus SUV. The new Revuelto supercar won’t add much to sales, even though it’s sold out until 2026, but will reinforce the brand’s mystique.

*Land Rover*

*2022 market share *2.68%

*2023 market share *2.77%

Production-constrained JLR has been concentrating on more profitable Range Rover and Defender models – with financial results to match.


*2022 market share *0.66%

*2023 market share *0.81%

Effectively crossover-only now. The UX (Toyota Corolla platform) and NX (Toyota RAV4 platform) are doing quite good business.


*2022 market share *0.01%

*2023 market share *0.07%

The Emira essentially is a placeholder until the Eletre SUV and Emeya saloon get into full swing. Geely’s plan is to turn Lotus into a luxury EV brand to fight Tesla.


*2022 market share *0.04%

*2023 market share *0.05%

The new Grecale crossover is having very little impact on Maserati sales, but that wasn’t the most surprising development of the year.


*2022 market share *1.56%

*2023 market share *1.63%

Mazda’s big sellers are the CX-5 and CX-30 ICE SUVs, which pay for its ever more idiosyncratic powertrains – rotary range extender, anyone? 


*2022 market share *5.01%

*2023 market share *4.57%

Mercedes’ vast range (18 models at a conservative count) means each one is actually quite a moderate seller. Only the E-Class is in the top three in its segment.


*2022 market share *3.16%

*2023 market share *4.23%

MG is only just outside the top 10 and is striking fear into the hearts of established makers. In the EV sector, China isn’t the follower but the leader.


*2022 market share *2.84%

*2023 market share *2.40%

The elderly hatch has lost some sales but is still the number-two small hatchback. Sadly, that doesn’t bring the sales volumes that it once did.


*2022 market share *4.75%

*2023 market share *4.64%

Nissan still effectively has a two-model range: Juke and Qashqai. The Ariya EV has got off to a slow start, selling at less than one-tenth the rate of the Qashqai.


*2022 market share *3.24%

*2023 market share *3.37%

The 208 supermini and the 2008 crossover do reasonable business, but no Peugeot is in the top five in its segment. Both the models and the brand are resolutely average performers here.


*2022 market share *0.46%

*2023 market share *0.65%

The Polestar 2 electric saloon has overtaken BMW’s 3 Series this year. As giant-killing feats go, that’s pretty impressive. The launches of the Polestar 3 and 4 electric SUVs next year should only help matters.


*2022 market share *1.13%

*2023 market share *1.25%

Porsche now outsells Fiat and isn’t far behind Honda. And in terms of sales revenue, it’s close to being a top-10 brand in the UK.


*2022 market share *2.00%

*2023 market share *2.14%

Renault has made a slight recovery thanks to increased sales of the Clio and Captur. After a bright start, the Arkana SUV seems to have stalled.


*2022 market share *0.03%

*2023 market share *0.03%

Rolls-Royce’s global sales exceeded 6000 for the first time in 2022, and 2023 is likely to be another record year, aided by the arrival of the firm’s first electric car, the Spectre coupé.


*2022 market share *1.37%

*2023 market share *1.63%

Seat is having a bit of an Indian summer. It won’t be long before the brand is totally replaced by Cupra; the current generation of Seat cars will be the last.


*2022 market share *3.03%

*2023 market share *3.67%

The smaller models like the Karoq are doing well and the larger ones are doing brilliantly. Skoda is now easily the market leader in non-premium large hatchbacks and crossovers.


*2022 market share *0.08%

*2023 market share *0.04%

The new #1 electric SUV has only just hit the market, so Smart has effectively been dormant for most of 2023. 


*2022 market share *0.10%

*2023 market share *0.09%

Three low-value, niche models made in a relatively highcost country and shipped halfway around the world: an economist’s nightmare. 


*2022 market share* 0.09%

*2023 market share *0.12%

Despite the increased share, no model is likely to hit 1000 sales. Subaru may have got on the electric SUV bandwagon, but the Solterra (basically a Toyota bZ4X) has barely made a ripple.


*2022 market share *1.08%

*2023 market share *1.41%

There have been big jumps for the SX4 S-Cross and increases for all of Suzuki’s own models, but the rebadged Toyotas – the Swace and Across – continue to struggle.


*2022 market share *3.38%

*2023 market share *2.50%

The Model Y is far and away the best-seller in its segment and the Model 3 might also finish the year as a segment leader. The latest controversy is insurance companies worried about how hard they are to repair.


*2022 market share *6.33%

*2023 market share *5.80%

All the small and medium models (from Aygo X to C-HR) are doing very well, but the RAV4 has faded and the bZ4X has yet to make a mark.


*2022 market share *5.19%

*2023 market share *5.36%

Vauxhall is doing very well in the B-segment: the Corsa is the number-one hatchback and the Mokka is the number-three crossover. Its larger models are struggling a bit, though.


*2022 market share *8.17%

*2023 market share *8.50%

Volkswagen is now the clear market leader yet without having a single model at the top of its segment. Even the Golf is number two, behind sibling company Audi’s A3.


*2022 market share *2.26%

*2023 market share *2.61%

Volvo is now a crossover-only range, and the compact XC40 is leading sales growth: despite its age, it’s the segment leader, outselling the Range Rover Evoque by more than 200%.

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