Fleet News

Jubilee and World Cup put the brakes on new car sales

THE Queen's Golden Jubilee and England's battle in the World Cup may have put the brakes on Britain's booming car market, according to industry experts.

After 20 consecutive months of growth in the new car market, the Party at the Palace dented the party in the showrooms, with sales for last month of 207,330 representing a fall of 3.2% against June last year.

Alan Pulham, franchised dealer director of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, said: 'The retail motor trade is grateful that England did not progress further in the World Cup, as we have seen the first drop in sales for 20 months. June seems to have been a sporting blip.'

However, the month still counted as the second best June on record and year-to-date car sales remain 6.2% up on the same period last year, at 1,347,693.

Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: 'This means that even during the Jubilee, people were still out buying cars in droves, adding an estimated £2.7 billion to the economy.'

In the fleet market demand also fell during June, with a 4% drop to 90,103 sales, compared to the same month last year, while sub-25 fleet sales rose 0.8% to 20,993. The fall was entirely due to lower petrol vehicle sales, down 12.1% to 64,790 last month, while diesel sales remained high at 25,313, a 25.9% increase compared to June last year.

Ford's Focus remains cemented to the top of the fleet and retail sales charts, with 8,114 fleet sales last month – 9.6% up on June last year. Few manufacturers escaped the lull, with Vauxhall, Ford, Renault, Nissan, Citroen and Fiat reporting a drop in sales for June.

Only Peugeot, up 20.3% on the strength of increasing 307 sales, Toyota and BMW/MINI reported sales growth last month. For the year to date, the fleet market is still 3.6% ahead of last year, with sub-25 fleet sales up 10.8% to 125,863.

The Ford Focus is leading the way at the top of the charts, while Ford is the most successful manufacturer, despite a 4.4% fall in sales.

The biggest gains have been made by Volkswagen, up 22.4% as demand for its diesels continues to boom, and Toyota up 23.9%.

The biggest fall has been recorded by Fiat, down 30.5% year-on-year.

Fiat's fleet marketing manager Tony Dittli said: 'Our fleet strategy has reduced our dependence on rental business, so that has led to a decrease in sales, while we are also forsaking some other volume business for a long-term strategy aimed at enhancing residual values and creating a firm platform for the brand in the market place.'

Despite a fall of 3.1% in its fleet sales for the year to date, Citroen is celebrating a record year overall. The firm now has 5% of the UK market and sold as many cars in the past half year as in the whole of 1999.

Demand has been driven by its Picasso MPV, while sales of the Berlingo Multispace are up 30%.

Alain Favey, managing director of Citroen UK, said: 'Our success to date is testament to the strength of our product range and our highly attractive pricing policy. The current ongoing renewal of the Citroen range, with additions like the C3 and the forthcoming C8, has helped raise our profile across the market.'

In the diesel market, the Ford Mondeo remains at the top of the monthly sales charts, thanks to the strength of its new TDCi engine range, with the Focus just 11 sales behind in second place.

However, Peugeot was the biggest selling diesel manufacturer last month, thanks to strong demand for the 406, 307 and 206 with diesel engines.

The only manufacturer to record a fall in diesel sales last month was Vauxhall, as demand transfers to the all-new Vectra range.

For the year to date, all manufacturers have recorded increases in diesel sales, with the Ford Focus and Ford Mondeo taking first and second place as the best-selling diesel cars, putting the manufacturer in top place in the sales charts, followed by Peugeot, VW, and Vauxhall.

The biggest sales increase has been recorded by Volvo, with sales up 1,444% to 3,895 sales so far this year.

The jump reflects on the strength of the diesel engine range offered by the firm and a series of events for decision-makers it planned to hold this year.

After selling 40,000 cars in the UK during 2001, Volvo aimed to improve on that this year, on the way to reaching 60,000 units by 2005, with two thirds of the increase in the corporate sector.

Its new D5 engine was expected to boost fleet sales and Volvo has doubled its UK allocation of the engine from 3,300 units to 7,820 this year to help support demand.

  • COMMERCIAL vehicle sales suffered the same fate as the car market last month, with demand down 4.8% compared to June 2001. However, for the year-to-date, the market is still up 2.4%. Light CV sales were down 4.8% at 21,611, but year to date sales, currently 131,965, show an increase of 4%.

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