According to the latest sales figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the private new car market is down a massive 12% when compared to last year.
But the fleet industry is bucking the overall trend, with large fleet sales down only 1.4%, totalling 506,967 registrations, and business (sub-25 fleet sales) up 7.5% to 73,731. Large fleets now account for 49.9% of all new cars in Britain, up from 48.6% in 2004.
In total, nearly 100,000 more cars have gone to corporate buyers than to private buyers so far this year, illustrating the increasing importance of fleet in powering the UK car market.
Lower-medium cars are faring particularly well, with Vauxhall, BMW and Audi showing strong increases.
In overall fleet sales, Vauxhall has tightened its grip on the top spot and is set to lead Ford by more than 10,000 units over the next couple of months. The Luton firm has already broken the 100,000-unit barrier at 100,265, while Ford has reached 91,884 – almost 5,000 units down on this time last year. Renault is a distant third on 43,600, while Peugeot is down nearly 4,000 sales on last year at 26,795 fleet units.
Two brands on the move, underlining the increasing popularity of premium brands, are BMW and Audi. BMW has increased its fleet sales over the first five months of the year, compared to last year, by 3,500 units to 17,527, despite the changeover in its popular 3-series. Audi is also up by about 3,500 units to 15,185.
Nissan’s strategy of selling niche vehicles is also paying dividends in fleet with sales increasing from 15,983 to 19,691 year-on-year while the effect of the new Golf has seen Volkswagen’s registrations increase 6,000 units year-on year to 38,023.