Fleet News

Fleets buck the trend by demanding luxury cars

POWER-hungry company car drivers are ignoring a nationwide shift among car drivers towards downsizing, with fleet demand for luxury saloons up by nearly 20% in the past half-year. Overall sales for vehicles such as Jaguars, Mercedes-Benz S-class, Rolls Royce and Lexus fell 9.6% to 6,156. But fleets snapped up 1,761 of the sales - up from about 1,500 for the same period last year.

Demand for specialist sports vehicles, such as the Toyota Celica, grew 5% among fleets of more than 25 vehicles, compared to 1.7% total growth.

Sales of MPVs rocketed 30.9% to 19,679, with highest growth made up of a swing from large vehicles, such as the Ford Galaxy, to smaller models, like the Vauxhall Zafira.

The largest increase, both for fleets and overall, was in mini sales, such as the Vauxhall Agila. A total of 5,135 vehicles were sold to fleets, a rise of 21.5%. Supermini vehicles, including the Ford Fiesta, were up 14.4% among fleets, compared to 17.1% overall.

A spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: 'The general trend is for people to buy smaller cars. That is pushing up equipment levels, so where a few years ago a CD player would have been unheard of on this level of vehicles, now it is quite common. As the tax burden on company car drivers increases, there will be a move to downsize. Large companies which want to run big cars for staff are generally less sensitive to the tax costs they face.'

The figures, provided by the SMMT, also showed an overall swing to diesel among supermini buyers, with 20,390 sold in the past six months, up 24.8%. Sales of off-road vehicles were up just 0.4% overall and down 2.1% among fleets.

However, following the recent fuel crisis and the fleet industry-wide rethink it prompted, there could be major changes to the shape of car sales over the next few months as fleet drivers renewing their vehicles think seriously about fuel choice and downsizing.

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