Fleet News

Sales boom as dealers try to beat new £25 registration fee

FLEET sales topped the 100,000 mark for the first time for any month - excluding August - in March with most of the major manufacturers increasing volumes year-on-year. Figures released on Monday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reveal fleet sales totalled 102,777 last month - up 18.2% on March 1997 (86,928) - to take a 48% share of the total new car market which stood at 213,374 - 18.5% up on March last year (179,985).

Industry experts believe part of the new car sales boom was due to dealers bringing forward registrations to March to avoid the new £25 first registration fee which came into effect on April 1 and the closure of first quarter incentive programmes.

March sales and first quarter figures were the highest since the record new car sales year of March 1989 and continued sales optimism was expressed by Alan Pulham, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, who said: 'There appears to have been no damage to confidence following last month's Budget. These figures are good news for the industry. I can see no reason to anticipate a downturn in this trend.'

Ford was the best-selling fleet manufacturer last month ahead of Vauxhall, Rover and Renault which with a huge 43.2% rise in year-on-year sales narrowly overtook Peugeot despite the latter's 22% rise in fleet business. Renault and Peugeot fleet sales increased the most, but Ford, Vauxhall and Rover also recorded double-digit volume increases as did Toyota, while Fiat (down 8.5%) and Citroen (down 7.8%) were the only marques to see volumes fall.

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