Fleet News

Fleet sales set to break record - but downturn is predicted for 1998

NEW car sales in 1997 are expected to top last year's 2.03 million total with fleet sales hitting new heights. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is predicting overall sales in the region of 2.16 million units, but is warning that the outlook is bleaker as the economy slows in 1998.

If the SMMT's calculations are correct, the total will top last year's figure of 2.03 million by some 100,000 units, making 1997 the third best sales year on record. By November 1997 fleet sales had already smashed 1996's 12-month total of 955,000 units, itself a record, and looked certain to breach the 1 million threshold for the first time ever by the end of the year.

The big three manufacturers are continuing to lose market share to importers, although Britain is exporting record numbers of cars thanks to the success of Japanese manufacturing bases in the UK. SMMT director of public affairs, Roger King, said fleet sales had been broadly in line with expectations with retail demand remaining buoyant to the end of the year.

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