Infiniti, Alfa Romeo and SEAT buck downwards sales trend
In pure percentage terms the brand with the most to celebrate following the release of the latest UK car sales figures appears to be Infiniti.
The Japanese luxury brand increased its sales by some 683 per cent in March.
This translates to just 47 actual cars sold, but the total is more than January and February combined and compares to a mere six Infinitis finding owners in March 2010.
In a market down 7.8 per cent most manufacturers showed minus totals in March, but there were some notable exceptions among the volume sellers, and none more so than Alfa Romeo.
The Italian brand boosted its sales by some 66 per cent, shifting 2,269 cars in March and ending the quarter as one of the top two volume sellers in terms of percentage sales increase.
The brand put its success down primarily to the Giulietta C-segment hatchback (pictured), launched late in 2010 and boosted in March by buyers desiring 11-plate models.
Alfa has been courted by Volkswagen in recent times, VW head Ferdinand Piech openly stating that he could do big things with the brand. Sergio Marchionne, head of Alfa parent Fiat Group, angrily responded that Alfa is not for sale and that Piech should concentrate on fixing the problems of his SEAT brand.
So it is ironic that SEAT recorded its best ever March sales figure, jumping 13.5 per cent with 7,251 sales.
The other volume manufacturer to post surprisingly strong results was Swedish brand Saab. It sold 1,766 cars in March, 52 per cent up on 2010, and posted the highest first quarter percentage sales increase among volume brands with a 73.5 per cent rise.
This performance was revealed as the Saab production lines were stopped for a third time in days as the brand tried to overcome payment problems with its suppliers.
Two brands who have talked loudly in recent times about relaunches and bright futures clearly have some work to do.
Korean brand Ssangyong sold just four vehicles in March 2011, compared to 102 a year earlier. And Birmingham-based MG recorded eight sales, compared to 52 in March 2010.
MG has, however, recently ended production of the TF sports car and could be said to be ‘in limbo’ awaiting the launch of the new MG6 family car in May.
Words by: Andrew Charman