Speaking in Paris at the professional association's annual press conference, SNLVLD leader Eric Spielrein said: 'The impact of the September 11 attacks on our business may be almost nothing — there was no evidence during September and October that things were slowing down.
'We will see more clearly what's happening in the first quarter of 2002.'
The SNLVLD said there was no negative impact on the French leasing industry during the Gulf War at the beginning of the 1990s. While the number of cars registered for business use fell by 21.23% at that time, vehicles registered by leasing companies continued their steady rise.
The reason behind this 'recession resistance' is linked to major growth opportunities for car leasing in France — vehicles bought outright by companies, without fleet management services, still account for the majority of fleet sales. But leasing is expected to continue gaining market share at the expense of purchasing.
In addition, 'at times of crisis, companies prefer to protect their ability to invest, and prioritise leasing over outright purchase,' according to the SNLVLD.
Consequently, French leasing companies hope to continue to ride the wave of double-digit growth: 11.15% in 1998; 13.37% in 1999; 14.19% in 2000 and 13.32% between June 2000 and June 2001.
This means they are increasing their share of the French business car market, although only 15% of company cars are currently supplied by leasing companies. The SNLVLD forecasts that its members' market share will reach 18% in 2003.
The total car leasing market reached 1,132,000 vehicles on June 30, 2001, a figure which does not include the approximately 200,000 cars supplied on fleet management.
Other trends in France, revealed by the SNLVLD, include a growing penetration of leasing among small and medium-sized businesses, increasing interest in company cars as part of an employee's remuneration package, the development of accident management, and the emergence of fast-cycle leases (less than one year) to satisfy the need of businesses for fleet flexibility.
The SNLVLD is also proving particularly combative in the area of taxation, where it feels the French tax system penalises leasing unduly. (December 2001)