UK new car sales: British-built Nissan Qashqai tops 2022 chart

Car sales took a 2% dive overall in 2022, but battery electric cars are now the second most popular after petrol models

UK new car sales dropped to 1.61m in 2022, down 2% on 2021. That makes 2022 the worst year since 1992, as the pandemic hangover continued to restrict supply of parts for new cars hitting the industry hard in the first half of the year.

However, Nissan has managed the disruption to the supply chain better than most, enabling the Qashqai compact SUV to top the sales chart for the first time with 42,704 going to customers in 2022. The Qashqai has been designed and engineered in Britain and is built in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear.

  • Best-selling cars 2022: the UK’s top 10 most popular models

Andrew Humberstone, managing director of Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd, said: ‘‘This is a landmark moment for a landmark car and it’s great to see how the latest generation Qashqai has struck a chord with car buyers here in the UK.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to see this car’s increasing success over the last 16 years, and it’s a fitting tribute to the skills and talents of Nissan’s excellent design, engineering, production and sales teams all around the UK.”

2021’s biggest seller, the Vauxhall Corsa, took second place in the 2022 sales chart, followed by the Tesla Model Y, which was also the best-selling battery electric vehicle of the year and best-selling vehicle overall during the month of December.

With 267,000 units sold, battery electric cars have now overtaken diesels with 16.6 per cent market share in 2022, putting them second behind petrol-powered models in the sales charts for the first time. In fact, EV sales were up by 40.1 per cent last year – the biggest jump of any car type. 

Petrol cars remained the most popular with 682,473 models hitting the road in 2022, and diesel power continues to fall out of favour with 82,981 sales – a 38.9 per cent decrease from 2021. Hybrid cars gained ground last year with 187,948 sales – a rise of 27.6 per cent – although plug-in hybrids failed to replicate that boost in popularity with 101,414 new models sold, representing a drop of 13,140 units year-on-year.

With the increased adoption of electrified vehicles, the average CO2 emissions of cars sold last year fell by 6.9 per cent to 111.4g/km, which is the lowest figure in UK history. 

However, Mike Hawes, chief executive of industry trade body SMMT which compiles the registration data, warned that EV uptake is slowing with the slow introduction of charge points potentially hitting further adoption of electric cars. “Infrastructure is the major challenge,” said Hawes. “Charging anxiety is the biggest obstacle.

  • "The Nissan Qashqai is just one of many British car industry success stories in 2022"

“Even taking the government’s lowest target of 300,000 charge points by 2030, that requires more than 100 new chargers to be installed every single day. The current rate is around 23 per day. The user experience may get worse before it gets better.”

This year is likely to see an easing of supply issues to enable car makers to work their way through their back orders, with a forecast of 1.85 million sales in 2023. And there are already signs that supply is already easing – December was the fifth consecutive month of increasing car sales. 

The projected growth is set to add £8.4 billion to the automotive sector in 2023, as the market begins to recover towards pre-Covid levels. 

Top ten selling cars of 2022

  1. Nissan Qashqai (42,704)
  2. Vauxhall Corsa (35,910)
  3. Tesla Model Y (35,551)
  4. Ford Puma (35,088)
  5. MINI (32,387)
  6. Kia Sportage (29,655)
  7. Hyundai Tucson (27,839)
  8. Volkswagen Golf (26,558)
  9. Ford Kuga (26,549)
  10. Ford Fiesta (25,070)

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