Recording 34,253 fleet registrations last month, 4,218 more than Ford, Vauxhall has racked up 182,063 so far this year, 4.79% ahead of 2003’s record total.
Ford’s running total for the year is 172,045, although this is ahead of its January to September total for last year by more than 6,000.
Maurice Howkins, director of fleet sales at Vauxhall, said: ‘We are doing well at the moment but it’s not our mission to be number one in the fleet market. We have had significant demand for our cars with the Corsa, Vectra and Zafira with higher figures than last year, and although Astra is down, we are in the process of completing the line-up with the new Astra.’
The Astra hatchback went on sale in May, but the estate will not arrive with customers until next year, while the three-door Sport Hatch will go on sale in 2005.
However, while Astra sales are 17% down on the same period last year, it came within 1,500 units of the Ford Focus in September, despite having just one body style compared with four for the Focus.
Howkins added: ‘Our order bank is currently very strong for the Astra estate which stems from pre-launch activity in promoting the vehicle. The Sport Hatch has also generated a lot of interest and should put us in a stronger proposition with the Astra next year.
‘We have the widest range of Euro IV diesels in the market place and Vauxhall is gaining a reputation for performance diesels.’
Toyota and Honda continued to build on their successes in the fleet market with year-to-date increases of 23.11% and 29.18% respectively. Honda puts much of its success in 2004 down to the introduction of the i-CTDi Euro IV compliant common rail turbodiesel, which has boosted overall Accord sales by 70%.
Fleets take a greater share of sales
FLEET and business registrations combined took a greater share than retail in September as the new car market showed signs of cooling off.
While year-to-date registrations are still marginally ahead of the same period last year, September’s figures were nearly 2% lower than September 2003.
Christopher Macgowan, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive, said: ‘We need to be clear that demand for new cars remains strong. However, it is inevitable that a plateau would be reached after three record years and it appears further growth this year is unlikely.
‘The impact of rising interest rates and the effect of consumer demand from a cooling housing market has, no doubt, accelerated the slowdown in the new car market over the last few months.’
He added that despite modest reductions in volume, the year-end total should match last year’s record of 2.57 million registrations.
Vauxhall’s Corsa toppled the Ford Focus off the overall top spot in September, with 18,388 registrations compared with 17,898 for the Ford.
The diesel market continued to grow with September’s diesel registrations up 17.4% over September 2003, with an overall share of 32.9%. Meanwhile, demand for sportscars, MPVs, luxury saloons and 4x4s rose in September by 16.8%, 11.3%, 10.6% and 4.5% respectively. Despite the cooling market, Mazda took a 2% share of UK registrations for the first time and is edging closer to 2% for the year to date. Kia continued to post high percentage increases, with a 50.19% rise for September and 47.7% for the year-to-date.
Highest LCV month for 15 years
THE LCV sector experienced its highest monthly sales total for 15 years in September at 46,340 registrations.
The figure is a 9.5% improvement over September 2003 and a 7.6% increase over the first nine months of last year. Heavy vans (2.6t to 3.5t GVW) have led the growth in the sector with a 21.1% increase in September compared with last year, and 15.1% for the year-to-date.
Medium vans (1.8t to 2.5t GVW) grew by 15.9% year-on-year in September, while light vans dropped 6% with changing fortunes for Ford and Vauxhall – Ford growing and Vauxhall cooling compared with last year.
Nissan became the fastest growing manufacturer in the LCV market with sales up 78% in 2004 and a 5.6% market share in September.