Fleet News

SMMT reveals total new fleet car sales reach August all time high

FLEETS bought a record number of cars in August as total new car sales reached an all-time high, according to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders figures. Total new car sales smashed through the half-a-million mark for only the second time in history with sales last month of 525,539 - 9.62% up on August 1996 figure of 479,945. The previous record was set in August 1989 when total new car sales were 500,112.

Total fleet sales were 196,955 easily beating last August's record figure of 178,009 and a measure of the importance of fleet sales to both the UK motor industry and economic well-being of companies across the country is that in August 1989 fleet sales totalled just 105,483 units. Figures reveal that almost every manufacturer saw record sales for a single month with most manufacturers also recording all-time high fleet sales for a single month.

With fleet sales currently running 5.03% above last year, when a record 955,371 vehicles were bought by fleets the industry is confident fleet sales will smash through the one million mark in 1997. Fleet sales in the first eight month's of this year totalled 740,278 compared to 704,821 for the same period last year.

RECORD new car sales figures for August have been welcomed across the UK motor industry, but they have been accompanied by further calls for the Government to resolve the long-running registration plate debate. Meanwhile, a number of manufacturers have, once again, been accused of falsely registering vehicles to inflate August sales figures.

While all manufacturers were this week claiming to be innocent, it is believed some registered cars were either being stored in compounds across the country or more cars than usual had been registered as demonstrators.

In announcing total August new car sales of 525,539 (August 1996: 479,945), Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Ernie Thompson, said: 'It is a milestone figure and represents a huge volume of business for the industry, but it demonstrates clearly the absurdity of over 25% of annual registrations occurring in just one month.' The Government will only say that a decision on the plate change will be made in the near future.

AUGUST fleet sales totalled 196,955 (August 1996: 178,009), while fleet sales in the first eight months of 1997 total 740,278 (1996: 704,821). Total new cars sold this year is 6.39% up on the first eight months of 1996 at 1,616,323 vehicles from 1,519,175 units, but this week the SMMT stuck by its forecast of a 1997 total new car market of 2.1 million, well below the record 2.3 million in 1989.

Top 10 fleet manufacturers in August were: Ford 43,244, Vauxhall 31,575, Rover 18,282, Peugeot 18,096, Renault 15,691, Nissan 11,038, Fiat 9,412, Citroen 9,183, VW 7,678, BMW 5,918. Top 10 best-selling fleet models: Ford Mondeo 18,022, Vauxhall Vectra 13,347, Ford Escort 11,864, Ford Fiesta 9,202, Vauxhall Astra 8,700, Peugeot 306 7,525, Peugeot 406 7,292, Rover 400 7,113, Vauxhall Corsa 5,342, Renault Megane 5,240.

WHILE the rest of the market was apparently booming, fleet diesel sales for August were down 8.3% on last year at 37,575 (1996: 40,984), with year to date figures showing a 3% slide to 148,700 (1996: 153,315). These reductions were mirrored by the overall diesel market, with figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showing that total diesel sales for August dropped to 75,909 (1996: 80,886), with year to date total sales down to 259,327 (271,500).

Top 10 best-selling fleet diesel manufacturers in August were: Peugeot 9,133, Ford 6,614, Vauxhall 5,918, Citroen 4,041, Rover 3,402, VW 2,208, Renault 1,377, Nissan 931, Audi 825, Land Rover 752. Top 10 best-selling fleet diesel models in August were: Peugeot 306 4,648, Ford Mondeo 3,600, Peugeot 406 3,543, Citroen Xantia 2,725, Vauxhall Vectra 2,539, Vauxhall Astra 2,502, Ford Escort 1,631, Rover 400 1,543, Citroen ZX 910, Rover 200 901.

VAN sales are likely to reach a record this year as companies continue to replace ageing vehicles whose life was extended through the recession. New Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders sales figures show 13,984 vans under 1.8 tonnes were sold in August compared to 10,518 in August last year.

Sector sales in the first eight months of this year total 56,007 (1996: 50,290) - the second highest on record after 1989. Meanwhile, van sales in the 1.8û3.5 tonne category totalled 20,672 in August (August 1996: 16,222) taking sales for the year to date to 87,751 (1996: 79,283).

Ford remains Britain's number one van manufacturer with sales to date this year totalling 57,947 (1996: 55,256), followed by Vauxhall with sales of 16,631 (1996: 18,087) and Volkswagen on 10,025 (1996: 6,816).

Citroen has stormed ahead with its LCV sales this year, 77% up on the first eight months of 1996, and August sales up 72% year on year, with the Berlingo adding considerable strength to Citroen's van model range.

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