Volkswagen became the UK’s best-selling car brand in 2021, marking the first time the German car maker has topped the sales charts in this country. That result means VW has taken the crown from last year’s top seller, Ford, which saw passenger car sales plunge by more than 23 percent amid the global chip shortage.

VW has not been immune to the chip shortage either, with sales also falling slightly in 2021. The company registered a total of 147,826 new cars in the UK last year, down from 148,338 in 2020. That’s despite the market as a whole growing by around one percent compared with the coronavirus-ravaged 2020.

Nevertheless, the company roared to first place in the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) new car registrations table, with sister brand Audi snatching second place after securing 117,953 registrations. BMW followed closely in third, registering 116,577 new passenger cars.

Volkswagen ID.3 Pure Performance

But if VW was hit by the chip shortage, fourth-placed Ford had even bigger problems, being forced to prioritise the construction of more profitable and more economically important vehicles, including the Transit Custom van, which became the UK’s best-selling vehicle of 2021. But that success meant resources were diverted away from cars such as the Focus and Fiesta hatchbacks, which were among the top sellers in 2020. In stark contrast, neither car made the top 10 in 2021.

But Volkswagen managed to get both the Polo and Golf models into the 2021 top 10, with the two cars placing fifth and sixth respectively. More than 30,000 examples of both cars were registered, but the Polo pipped the Golf to fifth place by a mere 394 registrations.

2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI exterior white

Another strong performer for the German company was the ID.3 electric hatchback – one of only three electric cars to break the 10,000-registration mark. With 11,032 registrations last year, it was the third best-selling electric car on the market, just over 1,200 units behind the Kia e-Niro, but far behind the market-leading Tesla Model 3, of which almost 35,000 examples were registered – enough to make it the UK’s second best-selling passenger car.

“What a way to start the new year – as the UK’s biggest-selling car brand across 2021,” said Rod McLeod, the director of Volkswagen UK. “It’s a great achievement from all at Volkswagen UK, including from our fantastic network partners, as well as a clear reflection and ringing endorsement of the strength of our range offering.

“With a growing family of award-winning ID. models bolstering an already impressive range of class-leading products, it is an incredibly exciting time to be part of the UK’s most popular car brand.”