Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) turned in a mixed May in the UK as while its mass selling Fiat brand lost more than a third of its sales, its niche players Alfa Romeo and Abarth, both had an excellent month as this market ended up slightly positive.
The UK new car market grew by a modest 3.4% in May with 192,649 new units registered, according to data issued by automotive trade body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The growth follows a substantial 8.5% decline during the previous May when demand was impacted by the dual effects of a vehicle excise duty pull forward and buyer hesitancy ahead of June 2017’s general election.
Fiat sold 2,623 cars in the UK during May and when compared to the 4,075 units it shifted during the same month the previous year that added up to a fall of 35.63% and its market share shrank from 2.19% in May of last year to just 1.36% last month.
Abarth however continued to see demand for its sports-focused versions of mainstream Fiat models soaring and it rocked 79.47% year-on-year last month, 612 units sold compared to 341 in the same month last year. That meant to 'Scorpion' brand took a 0.32% share of the market for the month.
Alfa Romeo also enjoyed good news at last during May and was up 31.97% to 355 units and a 0.18% share of the market. Niceh luxury brand Maserati fell 22.43% to 83 units while the off-road focused division, Jeep, completed the picture for FCA with 652 sales, a rise of 115.18%.
During May private demand grew by 10.1%, with more than 83,000 consumers driving home in a new car, and offsetting ongoing declines in the business and fleet sectors, which were down -9.6% and -0.7% respectively.
The most popular segments were supermini (up 6.0%), small family (up 1.6%) and dual purpose (up 19.2%), while demand for specialist sports cars also rose, by 12.7%. In addition, the hottest May on record saw a surge in demand for convertibles as drop tops rose 11.7% year on year.
Meanwhile, there was good news for the alternatively fuelled vehicle segment, as demand for hybrid and plug-in cars grew by 36.1% to 11,240 units, accounting for a record 5.8% of the market. Plug-in hybrid cars were the biggest driver of growth, up 72.7%, while hybrids rose 22.6% and zero emission battery electrics grew 18.7%. Registrations of petrol cars also increased, by 23.5%, while diesels fell for the 14th consecutive month, down 23.6%.
For the year-to-date, the overall UK new car market remains down, with new registrations having fallen by 6.8%, as economic and political uncertainty continues to impact demand. Business and fleet confidence, in particular, continues to lag, down 16.2% and 7.1% respectively, while demand from private buyers in the first five months is down 5.7% behind 2017 levels.
For the year so far the picture looks bleak for the Fiat brand and it’s down more than seven thousand units and 30.89% to 16,333 units which gives it a share of 1.51% of the total market after five months and adds up to a fall of half a percentage point on the same period last year.
Abarth has enjoyed black ink in all year long and is up 34.61% for the year-to-date to take a 0.23% share of total market sales.
It’s not such a pretty picture for Alfa Romeo but off the back of a positive performance last month it’s on 2,117 units for the year-to-date, down 6.04%, to claim a 0.2% share of market sales for the first five months of 2018. Maserati is down 27.43% to 622 units while Jeep is down 16.68% to 2,857 units.