Fleet News

Fleet sales on course to hit all-time high

FLEET sales are on track to reach a record high this year, beating 1998's 1,055,816 figure, according to new Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders statistics. In the first six months of this year fleet sales reached 566,803 - 3.5% ahead of 1999's six-month tally.

And, although the twice-a-year registration plate change system has been introduced since the 1998 fleet sales record was set, sales of X-plate cars from September could take fleet sales into previously uncharted territory.

While fleet sales remain strong, private new car sales are 4.4% down year-on-year as buyers continue to boycott showrooms despite numerous dealer and manufacturer special offers. Sales to sub-25 fleets are the most buoyant, with 'Business' sector sales up 30.4% year-on-year at 129,752 and June's new car sales in the sector were 42% up at 21,972.

Although the Competition Commission said nothing about fleet discounts, Vauxhall fleet marketing manager Keith Michaels claimed fleet sales were strong because companies feared new legislation aimed at reducing the disparity between fleet and retail new car prices could impact on the corporate market.

'Fleets have no reason not to buy now. If they hold back from replacing vehicles their buying position is unlikely to improve and could deteriorate,' he said.

June new car sales totalled 193,360 - slightly down on a year ago when sales totalled a record 196,442 - with fleet sales totalling 89,358. Total new car sales this year are 2.11% ahead of last year at 1,216.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said: 'A mix of new models, fantastic deals and the new plate change system all mean that the first six months of 2000 were very strong. More than 1.2 million new cars have been registered so far this year, giving an excellent platform upon which our forecast of 2.2 million units can be achieved.'

The Retail Motor Industry Federation was less optimistic with franchised dealers director Alan Pulham saying: 'It is apparent from car registration figures that consumers are still reluctant to buy new cars. It seems they are waiting for a formal statement saying prices will come down and match the rest of Europe, and Britain is no longer the most expensive place to buy a car.'

Vauxhall topped the June fleet market sales chart with an 11.9% year-on-year rise in sales to 17,869, due entirely to increases in sales of Astra, which was the best-selling fleet model last month, and Corsa. Vectra sales dropped year-on-year.

Ford saw sales slip 8.8% year-on-year to 16,794, although it remains the best-selling fleet manufacturer this year and the Focus is the best-selling fleet car in 2000. A year-on-year increase in sales of Megane and Laguna took Renault to third spot in the June fleet sales list ahead of Peugeot, with Citroen, BMW and Toyota all reporting big year-on-year sales increases.

BMW (GB) registered more than 7,000 new cars in June - more than half in fleet - and in the process achieved two record months in succession.

Top 10 best-selling fleet manufacturers in June were: Vauxhall 17,869, Ford 16,794, Renault 8,734, Peugeot 7,128, Volkswagen 4,650, Citroen 3,846, BMW 3,742, Fiat 3,718, Nissan 3,419, Toyota 3,378.

Top 10 best-selling fleet models in June were: Vauxhall Astra 5,528, Ford Focus 5,502, Vauxhall Corsa 5,002, Vauxhall Vectra 4,950, Ford Mondeo 4,271, Renault Megane 3,541, Ford Fiesta 3,410, BMW 3-series 2,561, Renault Clio 2,483, Peugeot 406 2,360.

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