Figures for November released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that Audi’s sales are up 31.9% year-to-date in fleet, putting the marque in ninth place in the top 10 best-sellers. BMW has seen corporate sales increase by 30.6% over the same period, putting it in seventh place, while Mercedes-Benz makes it into the top 10 with sales up 27.7%.
At the same time, the mainstream fleet marques – Vauxhall, Ford, Renault and Peugeot – have seen sales slide by 4.1%, 3.7%, 0.5% and 14.8% respectively.
The figures are yet another sign that wider company car choice lists are impacting on the fleet market, with user-choosers in particular moving away from traditional fleet cars and into premium-badge models.
Adrian Short, head of business sales at Audi, said: ‘We have had an extremely strong year in fleet and the growth has been across the model range, from A3 through to A6.
‘We have spent a lot of time getting our fleet team right and have been concentrating on building relationships.
‘Wider choice lists are giving drivers more access to premium badges and we have launched models such as the A3 Sportback, which have a real fleet appeal.
‘We are now operating in sectors where we have not traditionally operated before and drivers can now have a premium product for the same rental price as volume models.’
BMW’s corporate sales manager, Chris Brownridge, attributes the marque’s success to new additions to the range and in particular the new 1-series.
He said: ‘The 1-series’ wholelife cost proposition and driver appeal make it very attractive to drivers and fleet managers alike.
‘Consequently, it has quickly established itself as a benchmark car for many fleets.’
BMW has also seen the new 3-series range fully rolled-out during 2005, with a wider choice of diesels and the new Touring estate version, and a 2.0-litre diesel in the 520d, which brings 5-series diesel motoring at a lower price point.
SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said consumer caution in an economically tougher year had dented business confidence and slowed investment.
Light vans are down 5.9% so far this year, while medium vans are up 7.2%.
Meanwhile, heavy vans remain almost static at 0.3% down.
The big riser so far in 2005 is Volkswagen, with sales up 11.34% to 20,712 units. Other winners are Vauxhall, up 7.8%, and Nissan, up 10%. Surprise fallers are Mercedes-Benz, down 11.8%, Ford, down 6.9%, and Citroen, down 4.6%.