Fleet News

Five year decline of Rover's fleet sales

IN five years, Rover Group's fleet sales have plunged by almost 100,000 units. From a high in 1995 of 132,388 sales to fleets - accounting for 14.51% of the fleet market - when Rover was a 'big three' player with Ford and Vauxhall, sales slumped to just 46,934 units last year - 4.63% of the fleet market - putting the Midlands manufacturer behind Peugeot, Renault and Volkswagen as well as the 'big two'.

In the same period, the fleet market grew by around 100,000 units to top the one million mark. During the five-year period Rover's total UK sales dropped from 240,007 units to 143,343. Rover's fleet decline can be traced back to the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show when then chief executive John Towers told Fleet NewsNet that Rover was prepared to lose fleet sales and market share in a bid to improve profitability. Simultaneously, he said the manufacturer would reduce its dependence on the UK market in favour of becoming a worldwide manufacturer.

In 1990 Rover sold just 20,000 cars outside the UK and was 70% dependent on the UK market for business. By 1995 that percentage had dropped to under 50% as international sales reached 100,000 units. In 1999 Rover Group world sales were 251,000 units, of which 143,343 were in the UK. In Frankfurt Towers said Rover's strategy of selling cars profitably but in smaller numbers was good news for fleet customers as they would benefit from strengthening residual values across the model line-up.

However, BMW was unable to inject its brand management and quality into Rover, although prices increased against the competition and fleets did not accept that Rover was anything but a volume player.

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