Previously, the vehicles were spread between fleets sales and business sales – those to companies with fewer than 25 vehicles. But from now the vehicles, which can account for up to 150,000 units every year, will be classified as fleet sales.
Figures produced by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show fleet sales reached 99,105 units during January, an increase of 3% from the same month the previous year, and business sales reached 12,696 units, up 7%.
The SMMT said it had recalculated the 2004 figure to give a more meaningful month-on-month comparison.
Commenting on the figure, an SMMT spokesman said: ‘The large fleet market continued to improve. Following solid growth in 2004 registrations rose by 3% to bolster this market share to 54.6%.
‘Business demand dipped slightly in January, with the private sector facing a steeper downturn. The impact of the interest rate rises, weaker activity in the housing market and increasing costs – particularly household costs – have impacted upon the retail sector.’
In terms of individual sales performances for the month, Vauxhall retained its lead with fleet registrations of 20,446 units, up 3.1%. Rival Ford ended the month having recorded 17,624 units, a fall of 6.5%.
Model performances were mixed but vehicles in the fleet top 10 with declining fleet registrations included Ford Focus, Vauxhall Corsa and Vauxhall Vectra.
The biggest sales increase came from the Vauxhall Zafira, which recorded 3,990 registrations, up 46.5% on the same month the previous year.
Latest figures also show that light commercial vehicles sales, for vans up to 3.5-tonnes, for January were up 1,257 units to 21,970 units and that this growth was largely delivered by strong medium and heavy vans.
On commercial vehicle sales, SMMT chief executive Chris Macgowan said: ‘These figures show CV registrations still growing strongly after a record year, with light vans making the running as usual. We already think 2005 is going to be another memorable year for vans, which is doubly good news as the CV market is also a very reliable indicator of the nation’s economic and business health.’