Fleet News

Residuals will be key to new model launches

FOUR of the UK's leading fleet manufacturers are to launch new lower medium sector cars in the next year - and three received their world show debuts at Frankfurt. First into the fray will be Citroen with the Xsara, which will enter British showrooms on November 1 to be followed early in the new year by the Mk IV Volkswagen Golf, with the all-new Vauxhall Astra to be launched in the spring and the new Ford Escort next autumn.

And with all three cars likely to have similar prices and similar specifications residual values for the four new models are likely to be key in the decision-making process. The pace will be set by Citroen as it steals a march on its three rivals. However, with Volkswagen arguably the fastest developing fleet manufacturer and having set the fleet sector on fire with the new Passat, it could be the Golf which both Ford and Vauxhall fear most.

At the show Volkswagen had a whole hall dedicated to its current range and almost half was full of new Golf variants. To counteract the impact Vauxhall rushed out its new Astra, but it was not possible to sit in the new car. And, surprisingly, it emerged this week that Vauxhall would sell the old Astra in tandem with the new model range for 'a few months'.

CAP Motor Research chief economist Mark Cowling believes that the four launches in quick succession will give only a small 'honeymoon' period to each vehicle. He said: 'As a result, the residual value advantage will be with the car which is perceived to have a unique selling point and that may not be the newest vehicle.'

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