Fleet News

Late T-plate reaction causes sales rise surprise

NEW car sales figures last month were surprisingly ahead of April 1998 as a result of fleets holding off buying until the start of the new tax year, consumers reacting late to the launch of the T-plate and the launch of a Ford Mondeo price cuts programme.

Although fleet sales were 2.5% down on April 1998 at 88,585, they were still well ahead of expectations following the launch of the T-plate in March. They mean that 1999 fleet sales are just 2.1% down year-on-year at 374,562 (1998: 382,618). Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show April new car sales at 183,047 (April 1998: 171,690), taking 1999 new car sales to 818,989 (1998: 794,252).

Roger King, acting chief executive of the SMMT, said: 'The figures for April continue to demonstrate the effect of the new registration plate system this year. It is clear that consumers are adapting to the change, with the new T-plate in March causing some spill-over effects into the April registrations.'

Alan Pulham, franchised dealers director of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, added: 'This is on-going evidence that buyers are responding positively to lower interest rates and value-for-money offers in the marketplace for new cars.'

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