Vauxhall cars are increasing in popularity in the UK as Ford stumbles in the race to be the nation's favourite car maker, according to the latest sales figures released today.
Vauxhall's year-on-year sales improved 11.09 per cent last month, according to the latest Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures. But the manufacturer still has some way to go before it closes the gap with Ford, whose own improvement last month was a meagre 1.55 per cent improvement on July 2011.
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Ford and Vauxhall models were four of the five most popular derivatives sold during July 2012. However, the Ford Fiesta remains the best car in the UK in the eyes of car buyers, with the Corsa and Astra coming second and third respectively. The Focus lies in fourth with Volkswagen's Golf fifth.
Some 7,533 Ford Fiestas were sold in July, with 5,809 Corsas registered. The Fiesta is still streets ahead of the Corsa overall in 2012 - 67,103 Fiestas sold make it the most popular car in the UK with 52,956 Corsas registered.
The sub-£10,000 hatchbacks continued the dominance of the small car segment in the UK, which makes up a third of all new cars sold thanks to a combination of low running costs and affordable prices.
Sales of the Fiesta and Corsa helped new cars sales rise by nearly 10 per cent in July, a success that has seen experts reassess their 2012 predicated sales figures to a more positive outlook.
Sales: winners and loser
However, Seat will be disappointed with its July performance, seeing only 2,388 models registered - a dip of 12.46 per cent when compared to July 2011. There was good news for Peugeot, with the troubled French giant seeing an increase of 8.51 per cent from July 2011. Nissan saw a sizeable leap too, up 14.05 per cent.
Ford had a tough July, announcing the recall of thousands of Escape SUVs twice, whilst also confirming the delay of the 2013 Mondeo. The future looks brighter for the brand, though, with the 2013 Ford Fiesta expected to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in September.
Vauxhall had a very positive July, teasing the public with new information about the Adam and its 'million-plus' customisation options. The manufacturer also released specifications for its new entry-level Ampera Earth. Pre-orders for the powerful new 2012 Astra also proved popular.
Overall the figures provided by SMMT show another good month for the industry. New car registrations were up 9.3 per cent from last year at 143,884 units - the fifth successive monthly increase. It is also the strongest gain since the Scrappage-scheme inspired increase seen in July 2010.
All fuel types saw an increase in volume in July. The market for alternatively-fuelled cars was up 45.9 per cent, while demand for petrol cars also rose thanks to new models being released in the Mini segment, which grew by 93.4 per cent over the course of the month.
Registrations over the first seven months of 2012 have exceeded expectations and risen by 3.5 per cent (40,000 units), taking the total to 1,201,564 new car registrations.
Though the Ford Fiesta was by far and away the most popular car sold, Ford's overall judder may possibly be attributed to the rise in popularity of the small used car.
Information published by the new Auto Trader Owners' Guide last week shows that people are turning to affordable smaller used models over a year old to combat the impact felt by the recent double-dip recession.
Small cars have also been winning a number of awards over the last month. Skoda's Citigo was named car of the year in Auto Express's new car awards, with the Volkswagen Up! claiming Carbuyer.co.uk's best city car award.
Written by John Meadowcroft