Take the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2003. Taking cars alone, this year 1,085 new models were entered into the NVD database compared with 430 new derivatives in the first quarter of last year.
This all represents increasing choice for the end-user, whether they are a private buyer or company car user-chooser and although this may be to their benefit, it does put increasing pressure on the fleet manager to ensure the right car gets to the driver, in the right colour and the best specification.
But this increasingly wide range of specifications does create fresh challenges three or four years down the line on disposal.
Without access to the precise identification details, the danger lies in selling a car short, so this information is vital at both ends of the vehicle's fleet life.
Researching the retail used car market is producing interesting results on colour choices. You would have to have lived as a hermit not to be aware that white and flat blue have long been out of favour and our latest research confirms this, with 44.5% of used car retailers citing white as the worst colour on a car.
This is followed, unsurprisingly, by flat blue – or 'doom blue' as it is less-than-affectionately-known – with 29.5% of dealers disliking it. But what also emerges is green's place as the third least popular finish, cited by nine per cent of dealers researched last month.
Even more interesting is the regional breakdown of preferences because green is revealed to be especially unfavoured in London and the south east, the east of England, East Midlands and the south west. Blue also has a rougher ride in some parts of the UK than others.
For example, 86% of dealers in the north east name it as the one to avoid, compared with only 5% in the south east.
Looking at these two regions we also find reversed perceptions of white, out of favour with just 14% of dealers compared with 52% in the south east. White generates most discomfort among Welsh dealers, with 80% naming it as the worst finish.
Interestingly too, we have identified what may possibly be the beginning of an anti-silver backlash. With silver having dominated new car choices in recent years it is perhaps no surprise to find anti-silver sentiments, although these have only so far been identified in the north west and Yorkshire where nine and 10% of dealers name it as the finish to avoid.
For the fleet professional this information suggests the value of using contacts nationwide to ascertain where cars in different colours might fare best on disposal.
Of course it may be impractical where only small numbers of vehicles are involved but where several hundred white cars, for example, are being de-fleeted our research suggests that they will be greeted with less disdain in Newcastle than Cardiff.