FIAT 500 RIVA 2018

It was tough final month of the year for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the UK as Fiat (top, Fiat 500 Riva) brand’s sales collapse reached alarming proportions, down almost 60%, while Alfa Romeo (bottom, Alfa Romeo Stelvio) did buck the market’s downward trend as it was up 4% albeit off low volumes.

It was tough final month of the year for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in the UK as Fiat brand’s sales collapse reached alarming proportions, down almost 60% for the final month of the year, while Alfa Romeo did buck the market’s downward trend as it was up 4% albeit off low volumes.

Of the other FCA brands, Maserati finished December down 17%, Abarth had a respectable most as it finished almost flat, while Jeep grabbed the wooden spoon as its sales fell by over two thirds.

A total of 152,473 cars were sold in the UK last month, down 14.35% year-on-year, as the market finished the year with another fall – the ninth consecutive month of sales declines – according to data released by UK automotive trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Against that negative backdrop the FCA brands were always going to have a difficult time, but the Fiat brand saw its sales slide to just 1,645 units during December, down a staggering 58.13% year-on-year when compared 3,929 units in December 2016. That more than halved Fiat’s total market share from the 2.21% it captured during December 2016 to 1.08% last month and represents a real crisis for FCA to deal with in the UK if it is to arrest this slide.

Alfa Romeo outperformed the overall market’s decline in December to end the year in the UK with a positive performance, albeit up by just 4.11%, as the ‘sports’ brand sold a total of 304 cars last month, which represented an increase of 12 cars year-on-year. As a result of beating the market its share of all UK sales for the final month was up from 0.16% a year ago to 0.20% last month.

However, Alfa Romeo also has a lot of work to do quickly if it is to gain a ‘bounce’ from the new Giulia and Stelvio and its sales should in reality be considerably higher with both these strategically important new models now in the showrooms. Alfa Romeo UK, which has just added the Stelvio Quadrifoglio to the SUV's range, will clearly start 2018 looking for considerable market share gains.

Abarth turned in a virtually flat performance for December, it was down 6 units year-on-year after recording 304 sales for the month just gone. That represented a small fall of 1.45% year-on-year but comfortably outperformed the downwards direction of the overall market and thus its share for the final month the Scorpion brand – a nametag reserved for the high performance end Fiat models – was up by 0.02% to 0.20%.

Meanwhile Maserati shifted another 125 cars in the UK during December, down 25 units and 16.67% on the same month a year ago. The Trident brand’s market share for December thus remained flat on 0.08%.

For the full year, the UK new car market finished 2017 on 2,540,617 sales, down 5.65% on 2016 when the total was 2,692,786 units. December represented the ninth consecutive month of new car sales decline but that 2017 total was still the third highest level in a decade.

Private, fleet and business registrations were all down in 2017, with demand from private motorists declining -6.8%, while fleets saw a fall of -4.5%. The biggest percentage losses were seen in business registrations, with the sector ending the year down -7.8%. The most popular vehicle choices were, once again, superminis, small family cars and SUVs (dual purpose), with the latter the only segment to grow demand in 2017. In fact, one in every five new cars sold in the UK is now dual purpose, up from one in 10 five years ago.

For the full year of 2017 the Fiat brand finished up on 44,475 sales, down 26.59% on its 2016 performance when it shifted 60,581 units. As a result the Italian mass market brand’s share of all UK new car sales fell from 2.25% in 2016 to 1.75% last year.

Alfa Romeo finished its year in the UK on 4,997 units, just over a hundred units and 2.38% up on its 2016 performance. Against a contracting overall market though that represented a full year share that rose by 0.02% year-on-year to 0.20%.

Abarth joins Alfa Romeo in positive territory in the UK for the full year just gone as the Scorpion brand sold 4,441 units, up by 11.98% on 2016 when its sales total came in at 3,966 units. As a result, its share of the total market went up from 0.15% in 2016 to 0.17% last year.

Maserati enjoyed a robust year in the UK and it weighed in with 1,701 sales which was up 18.54% on 2016 when its total sales came in at 1,435 units. As a result of comprehensively outperforming the overall market its share of the new car market climbed from 0.05% in 2016 to 0.07% last year.

Finally, to mention FCA’s Jeep brand which also had a dismal year in the UK. The ‘off road’ vehicle brand added just 261 sales in December, a slump of 67.9% on 2016 when it finished the year with 813 sales in the final month. It’s share of the market for the month just gone amounted to 0.17%.

Consumers in the UK shunned Jeep products during the course of last year despite a steadily growing demand for SUV type vehicles and it finished up with 6,380 sales, down by more than a half (-54.72%) from 2016 when it shifted 14,090 units and its market share fell from 0.52% in 2016 to 0.25% last year. Jeep UK has the new Compass SUV joining the range in early 2018.

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Photos: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles / © 2018 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed