Fleet News

Focus ousts Corsa to regain top slot

THE Ford Focus regained its position at the top of the fleet registrations chart in October. Last month the Vauxhall Corsa ended a 51-month run at the top for the Focus.

It was the Renault Megane that took second place last month, with the Vauxhall Astra – still a range with just one bodystyle – securing third place. Vauxhall continues on course to finish the year with the highest number of registrations in the fleet market, with a greater gap separating it from Ford compared to this time last year.

Renault has experienced growth of more than 4% in the fleet sector this year, making it number three behind Vauxhall and Ford and the Megane diesel already has nearly 10,000 registrations more than it did for the first 10 months of 2003. While Honda’s October sales were only slightly higher than the same month last year, the company is experiencing growth of more than 25% in the fleet sector.

A Honda spokesman said: ‘There is a level of growth from the Accord diesel which we didn’t have last year, but perhaps a more startling area of expansion has been in our petrol product. The five-door Civic is 22% higher than last year while the Jazz has seen a 75% increase year on year. Most of these sales have been into the public sector, where we have reduced our levels of discount but still experienced higher volumes.

‘Our product is focused on the user-chooser market and we are now growing in line with our aspirations.’

Despite the Peugeot 407 appearing in the top 10 fleet diesel registrations for the first time, Peugeot is selling fewer 307s to fleets than last year with registrations down by nearly 14% and Peugeot cars are down overall by nearly 12%, with the 407, despite a strong start, not yet at full sales pace.

Nissan took sixth place in the table, but registered fewer cars last month than it did in October 2003, and is nearly 22% lower overall than during the first 10 months of 2003.

Dave Murfitt, Nissan fleet sales director, said: ‘Part of our direction this year has been to remain active in all sectors of fleet but to reduce our short cycle rental volume. We are refocusing our efforts this year on our retail sales strategy with a number of exciting new products on the way – like 350Z Roadster and Murano – improving our dealer network and working to improve residual values.’

Diesels strong as market cools

DIESELS took more than 37% of the total new car registrations in the UK during October, a month which witnessed a continued cooling in the number of new car registrations.

Private registrations fell by more than 13% compared with October 2003, while fleet and business registrations posted small increases.

October was a monthly record for diesel and four percentage points higher than the previous best, and diesel volumes have risen in 49 successive months totalling 63,511 units last month, reaching 721,570 for the year to date.

The Volkswagen Golf interrupted the reign of the Ford Focus as the top-selling diesel in the UK in October.

It was also ahead of the Focus in the fleet diesel registration table.

The industry is predicting a slight slowdown in demand for new cars over the next two years, but there is still a chance that 2004 will be another record year.

Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: ‘Despite a dip in October, the new car market is still running parallel with last year’s total.

‘We expect a slight upturn in November figures which will leave the increasingly strong December market as the decider. Will it be another record year? It’s too close to call.’

LCV record high

COMMERCIAL vehicle sales continued to reach record levels in October at 33,672 – up more than 10% on October 2003 – and have already beaten last year’s total. The growth is also leading to optimism for the first half of 2005.

Christopher Macgowan, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘Heavy vans are in the driving seat, pushing monthly figures up 24% and year-to-date figures up 16%.’

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