Fleet News

Fleet sales balance retail sector slump

Fleet new car sales grew across Europe last year while private sales slumped, according to a new report.

The report, 2001 Used Car Market Report - compiled by BCA Europe on conjunction with Sewells International - covers both new and used sales in Europe.

'Falling new car sales in Germany were mirrored across the majority of European markets in 2000. Across the board, they saw a 7% drop in volume against 1999,' the report said.

'The decline is driven entirely by retail buyers. The fleet markets, led by an increasingly sophisticated and mature leasing segment, are, in fact, growing. As a result, the requirement for an efficient remarketing infrastructure is becoming increasingly evident in a market traditionally dominated by large used car wholesalers.'

The report adds: 'Germany - Europe's largest car parc - continued to grow with 43.8 million cars on the road in 2000, a 3.2% rise that equated to more than 1.3 million units of incremental growth on the previous year.

'The growth in the German market came about despite a substantial 11.15% fall in new car sales - from 3.8 million to just under 3.4 million.'

Due to the fact that daily rental companies account for 16.8% of the Spanish new car market, the BCA and Sewells report has voiced concerns about the future of the country's newly-new market.

'Spain saw new car sales volumes fall marginally by some 20,000 units to 1.38 million, following the substantial 10% increase recorded in1999. With the rental operators accounting for ever-increasing new car volumes there are some concerns how this will affect the newly-new market in the years ahead.

The expert market, traditionally a significant safety valve for the disproportionate volume of rental returns, is getting less profitable for rental companies and manufacturers in Europe.

'This is driven by a number of factors that include the high volumes of indigenous rental product available in the French and German used car markets, the ever-efficient EU VAT control and the erosion of new and used car prices differentials.'

The report added: 'This is being recognised by manufacturers who are implementing used car remarketing programmes and educating dealers. The need for a sophisticated vehicle remarketing structure within Spain is becoming crucial.'

Findings in the report for other countries included:

  • Portugal's new car sales rising by a 'modest' 16,000 to 289,000 units.
  • Holland seeing demand for new vehicles stalling 'following significant growth in 1999' with volumes falling from 611,000 to 597,000. The report suggests that imports, particularly in the luxury sector, are 'largely responsible for the 2% drop'.
  • The Belgian market growing by 5.3% as new car volumes rose to 515,000 — the highest figure recorded for five years. 'Growth was seen in the high value specialist marques and in a strong performance by diesel-powered product, which is on schedule to represent 40% of the new car market'.


  • Swedish new car sales fell marginally from 295,000 to 290,000 'with the indigenous manufacturing base - Volvo and Saab - accounting for more than a third of all sales'.


  • New car sales in Denmark fell slightly from 314,000 in 1999 to 309,000 in 2000.
  • Austria has one of the highest penetrations of diesel power anywhere in Europe with 62% of cars using this fuel', the report said.

    Germany tops used car sales league, but volumes decline The BCA report confirmed that Germany still dominates the list of largest used markets in Europe - but sales nevertheless only reached 7.4 million units last year - a drop from 7.9 million units in 1999.

    In France, the number of units sold last year increased to 4.9 million units from 4.895 in 1999.

    Used volume in Italy was flat at 2.4 million units.

    'The Italian market will fail to reach its full potential while the current convoluted and administrative-heavy procedures for changing car ownership remain in place.
    'With the additional burden of the punitive tax regime in place on used car sales, the marketplace is likely to remain static,' the report said.

    Used volumes could benefit in the near future from lack of confidence in the new car market generated by the recent events in America and the falling confidence in European economies.

    The report also studied other European countries and found that:

  • The Netherlands stalled after strong growth in 1999. Figures of 1.85 million units represented a year-on-year fall of 2.6%.
  • Belgium's used car volumes also fell back slightly, from 681,000 to 670,000 - a modest decline of 1.6% on 1999's figures.
  • Denmark recorded a small decline in used sales, down from 396,000 in 1999, to 394,000 in 2000.
    'Specialist used car dealers have performed strongly,' it adds, 'while their franchised counterparts have suffered somewhat with large stocks of overvalued used cars.' The report blames the 'legacy of a policy that has seen over-optimistic part-exchange values being written to fuel struggling new car sales'.


  • Swedish used car sales volumes fell more significantly, from 300,000 to 266,000, equivalent to an 11.3% fall. 'Once again a strong import market is making itself felt,' the report said.
    'Imports rose from 40,000 in 1999, to 62,000 in 2000 — a 55% growth. Perhaps more significantly, numbers of imported cars under three years old went from 6,000 to 16,000 in the same period.'


  • The Austrian used car market stands at 750,000, down 25,000 units on 1999. 'Reflecting new car sales, the used market is dominated by diesel-powered vehicles, with up to 80% penetration in some sectors,' it said.


  • Portuguese motorists bought just under 700,000 used cars in 2000 — a significant increase of some 160,000 units year on year.


  • The Spanish market demonstrated a 5% volume increase in used car sales, with 1.58 million units sold in 2000 reflecting an 80,000 increase on 1999. 'With new and used sales running almost parallel, Spain has plenty of room for growth with a parc of 13.49 million and a population in excess of 40 million,' the report said.


  • The 2001 Used Car Market Report is available to buy from Sewells Information and Research by calling +44 (0) 1733 468000. (October 2001)


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