Fleet News

New car sales bonanza as makers face renewed pressure

NEW car price manipulation by manufacturers and dealers is resulting in a bonanza as fleet and retail sales raced ahead of expectations. The SMMT predicted that the impact of the twice-a-year registration plate change would see new car sales decline year-on-year following the launch of the T-plate in March before peaking again with the arrival of the V-plate in September. However, new car sales in April, May and June were up, culminating in a massive 15.7% rise last month.

The industry is divided as to whether the 4.8% rise in 1999 sales to 1,191,329 on 1998's half-year sales of 1,136,891 is due to false registrations, which some pundits put as high as 400,000 units, or attractive deals resulting in real business. However, under pressure from the Government, Competition Commission and the Consumers' Association among others to reduce the list price of new cars, manufacturers and dealers are finding innovative ways of winning business.

Some manufacturers - such as Ford, Rover, Kia, Hyundai and Proton - have slashed prices by thousands of pounds on some models and others such as Vauxhall, Peugeot and Renault have launched new or face-lifted models at prices lower than the vehicles they replace. Large dealer groups have been buying 200 or 300 models from a manufacturer in one 'hit' and, supported by volume-related bonuses, have distributed them around their dealerships which have sold the cars inside two or three weeks at cut-price.

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