Fleet News

T-plate set to push March sales over 300,000 mark

MARCH new car sales figures look set to break the 300,000 barrier with fleets taking around a 50% share, according to industry sources as new T-plate cars went on sale on Monday. Following a collapse in new car sales in January and February the boom in March business following the switch to a twice-a-year plate change is expected to bring new car sales into line with last year's three-month tally.

However, there is not the 'buzz' around the launch of the T-plate which there was traditionally around the launch of the new plate in August, possibly reflecting nervousness in both fleet and retail sectors about the impact of Tuesday's Budget and a longer term view of the UK economy. February's new car sales were expected to be almost half last February's total of 177,133 units.

Once the full transition to the new twice-a-year plate change and the new registration system set to replace the present letter system in September 2001 has been completed, March will dominate the year taking 20-22% of the market with September taking 17-18%. Traditionally August has accounted for around 23% of the total annual new car market.

Meanwhile, there was concern among 54% of dealers surveyed that customers did not understand the changes to the plate system. The V-plate is due to be introduced on September 1. Keith Horlock, executive director motor finance, First National, said: 'With the industry suffering the effects of the economic slowdown and with residual values under attack from over-capacity, the results of our research demonstrate the increased pressure that dealers' profitability is under.'

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