Vauxhall remained at the top of the fleet sales charts in June, selling nearly 1,300 more cars than Ford, although the Blue Oval is closer to the Griffin badge than last year with a 7.76% increase in sales, compared with a 3.18% rise for Vauxhall.
Sales to larger fleets totalling 105,818 were more than 700 units higher than private sales, which fell by 5.8% compared with June 2003.
An extra 28,213 registrations from sales to smaller businesses gave the fleet market a comfortable lead over retail, which has fallen by 0.8% year on year. Ford, Vauxhall, Renault and Toyota have recorded significant rises in sales to fleets in 2004, while Fiat is also recording improvements, creeping into the top 10 manufacturers in June.
Toyota fleet sales are up 21% from January to June compared to the same period last year, largely due to the strength of the Avensis. Jon Pollock, general manager of Toyota Fleet, said: 'During the last quarter of 2003 and the first quarter of 2004, we did a number of restricted-badge deals and those vehicles are now beginning to arrive on fleets.
'The Avensis is also doing well with user-choosers, particularly because we have had Euro IV diesel from its launch. For example, 15% of the National Grid company car fleet – which is a completely open policy – is Avensis and we have never been anywhere near that with the old Avensis.
'Another example is the company car fleet for Lloyds TSB, where the Avensis is the most chosen car in its sector.'
Demand for new diesel cars rose for the 45th consecutive month, with an increase of more than 14,000 units in both fleet and retail compared with June 2003, and making 32.2% of all new cars registered.
In the fleet sector, eight diesels in the top 10 have recorded growth compared with 2003, including those well advanced in their production cycle like the Ford Mondeo, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Vectra and BMW 3-series.
Smaller manufacturers benefit from rising market
AWAY from the top 10 manufacturers, other companies are benefiting from what appears destined to be another record year for new cars. Honda achieved close to 50,000 units by the halfway point in the year – an increase of 13% over 2003 – thanks to the success of the five-door Civic and the diesel Accord in the fleet market.
The Jazz, the S2000 and the Civic IMA are also showing increases year on year.
James Daulton, head of corporate sales, said: 'The good news for us is that we are not only growing our sales through the new diesel models but have also increased the sales of all our models, including the petrol variants.'
Land Rover dealers have changed the way they record fleet sales, but the company is also on course for a record year in the UK, with more than 27,000 sold overall in the first six months of the year.
Fleet sales reached 3,676 by the end of June, compared with 1,030 for the same period last year, with the new Freelander Sport encouraging customers to take another look at the car.
The Freelander is second behind the Toyota RAV4 in the table of 4x4 fleet sales and ahead of the Honda CR-V and Nissan X-trail. The Discovery has chalked up 1,046 fleet sales from January to June, compared with 172 during the first half of 2003, which the company puts down to the new sales reporting procedure, as well as the incentives for the run-out Definitive Editions.
Land Rover UK managing director Phil Popham said: 'The Definitive Editions offer superb value premium motoring. With a starting price of £24,995 and a host of attractive specification features, this really is a great time to get behind the wheel of a legendary British marque.'
The Range Rover recorded 320 fleet sales compared with 57 during the first six months of 2003, demonstrating, says Land Rover, that even with higher leasing rates than many traditional luxury saloons, there is a strong appetite for the car.
Jaguar has recorded a record first half of the year, with 18,000 cars sold and European sales up by 40%. The increase is being put down to diesel versions of the X-type. Meanwhile, Kia achieved a 1.51% market share in June, beating many more established players. Its overall sales are up 48% in the UK for the first half of the year in a market up 2.2% and, according to managing director Paul Williams, has shown it can consistently exceed a 1% market share during 2004.