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UK Car Review market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the UK Car Review market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report investigates the changing face of the UK car market. It focuses on developments that are taking place within the car market and how these are impacting now and are likely to impact on the future demands of buyers. It presents a review of the UK market for passenger vehicles and the dynamics of the sector, as well as reviewing trends in areas such as category and brand share. It is exclusively focused on passenger vehicles, and therefore excludes any discussion of the market for light commercial vehicles or fleet vehicles in this report.

Key points included

  • What next for the car market
  • Overall interest in autonomous vehicles is low<
  • Interest in diesel collapses amongst new car buyers

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Neil Mason, a leading analyst in the Retail Research sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Falling new car sales since 2017 illustrate the difficulties that currently face the car sector with the impending departure from the EU in March 2019 not expected to improve prospects in the short-term. With the market suffering from depressed sales, car manufacturers increasingly need to focus on meeting consumer demands which are increasingly reflecting individual lifestyles. Neil Mason
Head of Retail Research

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Car sales fall for second consecutive year
              • Figure 1: UK new and used car sales, by volume, 2013-23
            • New car sales have fallen more than those in the used sector since 2016
              • Figure 2: New and used car market volumes, 2013-18
            • Mini/supermini segment suffers a dramatic fall in its profile
              • Figure 3: New car registrations by broad segment (share), 2013 and 2018
            • Diesel cars account for a much reduced share of new sales
              • Figure 4: Sales of new cars by fuel type, 2013 and 2018
            • Companies and brands
              • Mass market manufacturers lose out as buyers trade up
                • Premium brands offer the best combination of trust and differentiation
                  • Figure 5: Attitudes towards and usage of selected brands, December 2018
                • Fall in advertising expenditure reflects wider difficulties for the car market
                  • Automation dominates innovation
                    • The consumer
                      • Over 7 out of 10 adults own a car
                        • Figure 6: Car ownership, November 2018
                      • The majority of cars in ownership are used
                        • Figure 7: Age of car owned, November 2018
                      • Most without a car also don’t possess a driving licence
                        • Figure 8: Other access to cars, November 2018
                      • Nearly 6 out of 10 car owners have a small or medium-sized vehicle
                        • Figure 9: Type of car owned, November 2018
                      • Environmental concerns are most likely to put off purchasing a diesel car
                        • Figure 10: Concerns about diesel, November 2018
                      • Digital is the main source for information on cars
                        • Figure 11: Sources of information, November 2018
                      • Less than 1 in 10 adults is interested in a fully autonomous car
                        • Figure 12: Autonomous driving, November 2018
                      • What we think
                      • Issues and Insights

                        • What next for the car market?
                          • The facts
                            • The implications
                              • Interest in diesel collapses amongst new car buyers
                                • The facts
                                  • The implications
                                    • Overall interest in autonomous vehicles is low
                                      • The facts
                                        • The implications
                                        • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                          • Car market is expected to see mixed fortunes going forward
                                            • Car ownership polarises between new and old vehicles
                                              • Car ownership varies by location and wealth
                                                • Franchised dealers are the most important route for car buyers
                                                  • Cars dominate for trips over 1 mile
                                                  • Market Size and Forecast

                                                    • Car sales set to continue to decline in 2018
                                                      • Figure 13: UK new and used car sales, by volume, 2013-23
                                                      • Figure 14: Best- and worst-case forecasts for UK new and used sales, 2013-23
                                                    • Forecast methodology
                                                    • Market Segmentation

                                                      • Car sales heading downward
                                                        • Figure 15: New and used car market volumes, 2013-18
                                                      • Nearly a quarter of cars are 12 years or older
                                                        • Figure 16: Age structure of the UK car parc in years, 2013-17
                                                      • Increase in second car ownership offers opportunities for the market
                                                        • Figure 17: Percentage of households with car availability, England, 2007-17
                                                      • Car ownership varies across the country
                                                        • Figure 18: Household car ownership by region (England), 2006/07 and 2016/17
                                                      • Wealthiest are more likely to own more than one car
                                                        • Figure 19: Percentage of households with cars by income group (United Kingdom), 2016/17
                                                      • Dual and multipurpose vehicles perform best in what is a declining market…
                                                          • Figure 20: New car registrations, by broad segment, 2013-18
                                                        • …as the mini/supermini segment suffers a fall in its profile
                                                          • Figure 21: New car registrations by broad segment (share), 2013-18
                                                        • Dual-purpose cars are now the third most important category in the market
                                                          • Figure 22: New car registrations by category, 2015, 2016 and 2017
                                                        • Diesel sales fall to less than a third of new vehicles …
                                                          • Figure 23: Sales of new cars by fuel type, 2013-18
                                                        • …but continue to challenge petrol in the overall car market
                                                          • Figure 24: Number of licensed cars (Great Britain), million units, 2013-18
                                                      • Channels to Market

                                                        • Franchised dealers benefit from recent buoyant new car sales
                                                          • Figure 25: Sales of new and used cars, by channel, 2013-17
                                                      • Market Drivers

                                                        • Older licence holders are more likely to be men
                                                          • Figure 26: Full car driving licence holders by age and gender, England, 2017
                                                        • Trips taken each year are down if walking is excluded
                                                          • Figure 27: Trips, distance travelled and time taken, England, 2007-17
                                                        • Cars dominate for trips over 1 mile
                                                          • Figure 28: Mode share of trips by main mode (different trip lengths), England, 2017
                                                        • Rising costs hit those owning and using a car
                                                          • Figure 29: Consumer expenditure on car purchasing, servicing and repair and motoring expenses, seasonally adjusted at current prices, 2013-17
                                                        • Over half of adults plan to buy a car in the next 3 years
                                                          • Figure 30: Do you or someone else in your household plan to buy a car(s) within the next 3 years, November 2018
                                                        • Buying new dominates although used is growing its share
                                                          • Figure 31: Intention of purchasing a car/s in the next three years, by new or used/second-hand purchase, November 2018
                                                        • London leads with growing restrictions on using vehicles in cities
                                                          • Electric and hybrid cars are growing their share of the market
                                                            • Figure 32: Hybrid and electric new car registrations (Great Britain), by volume, 2013-23
                                                        • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                          • Mass market manufacturers suffer from fall in share
                                                            • Automation is a focus of activity by car manufacturers
                                                              • Advertising support falls back after peaking in 2016
                                                                • Brands occupy distinct positions within the market
                                                                • Market Share

                                                                  • Mass market manufacturers suffer a fall in market share
                                                                    • Mercedes-Benz is the best performing major brand
                                                                      • Figure 33: Manufacturer shares of new car registrations, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018
                                                                    • Small cars dominate the new car market
                                                                      • Figure 34: Top 10 new car models, 2018
                                                                    • Ford Fiesta leads used car market
                                                                      • Figure 35: Top 10 used car models, 201
                                                                  • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                    • Hyundai explores holographic augmented reality
                                                                      • Figure 36: WayRay holographic augmented reality technology, January 2019
                                                                    • Ford looks at the development of smarter systems for European cities …
                                                                      • …as well as broadening activity outside of the automotive sector
                                                                        • Volvo pushes towards sustainability
                                                                          • Volkswagen partners with Microsoft to offer new IoT platform
                                                                            • Audi announces plans for 5G-connected cars
                                                                            • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                              • Advertising support down since peaking in 2016
                                                                                • Figure 37: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total advertising expenditure by car manufacturers, 2014-18
                                                                              • 4x4s and SUVs now dominate category expenditure
                                                                                • Figure 38: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total advertising expenditure, by type of car, 2014-18
                                                                              • Mass market manufacturers raise investment
                                                                                • Figure 39: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total advertising expenditure by leading car manufacturers, 2014-18
                                                                              • Television re-asserts its dominance
                                                                                • Figure 40: Percentage media type split of recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total advertising expenditure by car manufacturers, 2014-18
                                                                              • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage
                                                                              • Brand Research

                                                                                  • Premium brands offer the best combination of trust and differentiation
                                                                                      • Figure 41: Attitudes towards and usage of selected brands, December 2018
                                                                                    • Key brand metrics
                                                                                        • Figure 42: Key metrics for selected brands, December 2018
                                                                                      • Brand attitudes: Tesla stands out as by far the most innovative brand in the market
                                                                                        • Figure 43: Attitudes, by brand, December 2018
                                                                                      • Brand personality: Volkswagen’s unethical performance continues to affect the brand
                                                                                        • Figure 44: Brand personality – Macro image, December 2018
                                                                                      • Brand personality: Far Eastern brands are associated with being user-friendly
                                                                                        • Figure 45: Brand personality – Micro image, January 2018
                                                                                    • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                      • 70% of adults own a car
                                                                                        • Men and young adults are important car buyers in the last 2 years
                                                                                          • Age, income and employment strongly affect non-car ownership
                                                                                            • Small and medium-sized cars are the most important sectors
                                                                                              • Environmental concerns are strongly associated with diesel
                                                                                                • Digital is a key channel for information on cars
                                                                                                  • Less than 1 in 10 adults are interested in a car that can drive itself
                                                                                                  • Car Ownership

                                                                                                    • More than 7 out of 10 adults own a car
                                                                                                      • Figure 46: Car ownership, November 2018
                                                                                                    • Wealth plays a major factor in car ownership
                                                                                                      • Car ownership is gradually increasing
                                                                                                        • Figure 47: Car ownership, 2014-18
                                                                                                    • Age of Car Owned

                                                                                                      • Cars purchased used represent a bigger market
                                                                                                        • Figure 48: Age of car owned, November 2018
                                                                                                      • Young and old adults focus on different market sectors
                                                                                                        • Men are likely to buy new while women are more likely to buy used
                                                                                                          • City residents favour buying new
                                                                                                            • Wealth impacts strongly on new and used choice
                                                                                                              • New car sales have benefitted most in recent years
                                                                                                                • Figure 49: Age of car owned, 2014-18
                                                                                                            • Other Access to Cars

                                                                                                              • The majority of those without a car don’t possess a driving licence
                                                                                                                • Figure 50: Other access to cars, November 2018
                                                                                                              • Age is the most important factor for non-car ownership
                                                                                                                • Older adults have the potential to become car owners
                                                                                                                • Type of Vehicle Owned

                                                                                                                  • Car owners prefer smaller cars
                                                                                                                    • Figure 51: Type of car owned, November 2018
                                                                                                                  • Women prefer smaller cars
                                                                                                                    • Specialist categories popular with those in rural areas
                                                                                                                      • Small and specialist cars popular with the most affluent
                                                                                                                        • SUVs are the star performer in the market
                                                                                                                          • Figure 52: Type of car owned, 2014, 2016, 2018
                                                                                                                      • Concerns about Diesel

                                                                                                                        • Environmental worries dominate diesel concerns
                                                                                                                          • Figure 53: Concerns about diesel, November 2018
                                                                                                                        • Environmental concerns are greatest amongst those in cities
                                                                                                                          • Costs of owning a diesel high amongst wealthier socio-economic groups
                                                                                                                            • Poor resale value is more important for older adults
                                                                                                                              • Parents with children are more aware of alternatives
                                                                                                                                • Repertoire analysis records interest of older adults, city dwellers and higher earners in having multiple concerns
                                                                                                                                  • Alternative technologies to diesel are of interest for new car buyers
                                                                                                                                  • Sources of Information

                                                                                                                                    • Digital is the main source for information on cars
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 54: Sources of information, November 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Young men access a wide range of channels for information on cars
                                                                                                                                      • City residents shun digital communication
                                                                                                                                        • Wealthy and affluent adults use a variety of channels
                                                                                                                                          • Owners of new cars are most interested in information
                                                                                                                                            • Digital is helping broaden communication
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 55: Sources of information, 2017 and 2018
                                                                                                                                          • Autonomous Driving

                                                                                                                                            • Less than 1 in 10 adults is interested in a fully autonomous car
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 56: Autonomous driving, November 2018
                                                                                                                                            • Young men are most interested in automated cars
                                                                                                                                              • Affluent adults are another important market
                                                                                                                                                • Cities and rural environments illustrate strong contrasts
                                                                                                                                                  • Owners of new cars are most interest in autonomous driving
                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                    • Data Sources
                                                                                                                                                      • Exclusions
                                                                                                                                                        • Market sizing and segment performance
                                                                                                                                                          • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                            • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                                • Forecast tables
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 57: New and used car market sales, by volume, 2013-23
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 58: Forecast of new and used car sales, by volume – Best- and worst-case scenarios, 2018-23