Fleet News

More niche models due says expert

FLEET drivers can look forward to an even greater choice of niche models as volume manufacturers seek sales growth.

That is the view of industry expert Professor Peter Cooke, who revealed his views at a KPMG media briefing.

Suggesting a wide range of future trends, the KPMG Professor of Automotive Industries Management at Nottingham Business School said: ‘Carmakers want to find or establish sectors of the market where they will have little competition. They are after the ‘MPV 4x4 convertible’ that will do well.’

The search for new mini sectors was driven by over- capacity, which he saw as the most important of a number of factors that would influence car production and sales in Europe. Global plant utilisation was likely to rise from 74% to 78% by 2010 but this would not be enough to generate sustainable profitability.

Brand strength continued to be a key issue in securing sales and Cooke said Jaguar was experiencing brand dilution – ‘some Jaguars are starting to be seen as the top end of the Mondeo range’.

Asia Pacific was the driver of increased demand – especially in India and China – and manufacturers were finding they had assembly plants in the wrong part of the world.

‘I do not expect a manufacturer of any size to build another totally new assembly plant in western Europe,’ said Cooke.

‘That does not apply to eastern European countries such as Hungary, or other nations, including Turkey, because cost pressures will encourage manufacturers to go to countries with the lowest cost of labour.’

Cooke forecast moves to integrated transport, substitutes for cars and more working from home as IT links improved.

He said: ‘People in their 30s living in cities are already declining to have a company car because it’s too much trouble. They would rather rent a car when they need it – an opportunity for the rental companies.’

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