Fleet News

Fleet sales set to fall as price uncertainty bites into market

FLEET sales look set to fall for the first time since 1991, with car manufacturers predicting three months of uncertainty ahead largely due to hopes - which are unfounded - of a sharp drop in new car prices. Following the boom in September, new car sales due entirely to the launch of the V-plate, 1999 fleet sales are 3.4% down on last year at 818,201 units (1998: 847,211). Last year fleet sales reached a record 1,055,816 and it is possible that this year sales will not break the one million mark for the first time since 1997.

September fleet sales totalled 154,380 (September 1998: 73,293) with total new car sales being 386,999 (September 1998: 163,380). Total new car sales this year are 1.27% down at 1,820,096 (1998: 1,843,479), although industry analysts say the market remains on course for 2.225 million sales this year. Industry experts had always predicted that September would be the peak month for 1999 new car sales following the introduction of the twice-a-year plate change and so it proved. However, following a very strong initial few days sales 'fell into a crevasse', according to one leading manufacturer's fleet director, due to ill-informed reports in some national newspapers that new car prices were set to tumble.

While there was some recovery in sales towards the end of the month, manufacturers reduced their predicted September sales forecast from an initial 450,000 to 425,000 units, with the final tally being below the hoped for 400,000 mark. All leading fleet manufacturers saw year-on-year sales rise dramatically in September with Ford being the leading manufacturer and the Ford Focus followed by the Ford Mondeo being the two best-selling fleet cars.

Top 10 best-selling fleet manufacturers in September were: Ford 31,528, Vauxhall 26,562, Peugeot 16,064, Renault 15,181, Volkswagen 9,501, Rover 8,463, Nissan 8,044, Fiat 5,652, BMW 4,730, Honda 4,681. Top 10 best-selling fleet models in September were: Ford Focus 10,478, Ford Mondeo 9,976, Vauxhall Astra 9,492, Vauxhall Vectra 9,088, Peugeot 406 6,844, Renault Megane 6,122, Vauxhall Corsa 5,311, Peugeot 306 5,209, Renault Laguna 4,587, Ford Fiesta 4,165.

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