Registrations to private buyers have fallen by 1.8% to 455,218 so far in 2003, while fleet sales are down 4.8% to 362,637. Yet despite economic uncertainty and falling sales in other areas, demand among sub-25 vehicle fleets is up 2.5% so far this year, at 89,397.
Although for the year-to-date, total registrations are down 2.6% at 907,252, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has decided to revise full-year sales predictions upwards by 50,000 units to 2.45 million units. If the predictions are correct, this year will achieve the third highest sales on record, following 2,563,631 sales in 2002 and 2,458,769 in 2001.
Up until May, Vauxhall remains in the lead as the best-selling fleet manufacturer in 2003, with 77,224 sales (up 2.05%), while Ford in second has fallen back 10.68% to 71,528.
Alongside Vauxhall, only Volkswagen and Audi have registered an increase in demand, although both have risen by less than 1%. Ford remains at the top of the best-selling fleet models list, with 31,159 Ford Focus registrations, although this is down 21.35% year-on-year.
For April, private sales were down 10.5% to 96,745, while fleet sales were down 3.4% to 80,909. Overall, April sales were down 7% to 194,312, although this is still the second highest April on record.
Ford topped the April fleet sales chart overall, even though its sales were down 8.6% at 17,812. Only Renault, Toyota and Rover recorded an increase in sales last month. An 88% leap in Rover 75 sales and strong year-to-date sales of the 25 helped the manufacturer win a place in the top 10 charts.
MG Rover fleet chief Peter Milner said: 'Our fleet team is larger and we're seeing a lot more people than before so we're having more success than many of the established brands. We have planned to do more rental this year but we didn't do as much as expected in April because of restricted supply. We are also having more success with the MG brand, particularly with the ZT 1.8T and CDTi which were launched last year.'