Fleet News

Fleets prop up market as new car sales drop

NEW car sales for June have fallen by 4.8% compared to the same time last year, but once again corporate business is propping up the market.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that a total of 227,623 new cars were sold in June, including 111,447 to fleets and 17,082 to businesses running fewer than 25 cars.

With private sales down 11% year-to-date and fleet sales down 2.3%, it was left to small fleets to bring some cheer to car manufacturers with a 7.7% rise. The figures show that corporate business remains the largest sector, accounting for 54.7% of the new car market.

SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said: ‘The new car market could not sustain the record levels set in the first half of 2004.

‘However, while interest rates begin to bite across all retail sectors, figures from the car sector remain healthy.’

In the corporate sector, Vauxhall and Ford remain the two biggest sellers by far, with Vauxhall’s sales remaining flat at 119,992 sales year-to-date and the Blue Oval down 5% at 111,746.

But it is the smaller players who are making big strides in the sector.

One of the largest rises was recorded by Honda, which makes it into the top 10 fleet manufacturers’ table with a 35% rise in business sales.

The company’s head of corporate sales, Stephen Hollings, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted with this result. Our corporate sales are going from strength to strength.

‘Much of the growth is down to the Accord, especially the diesel version, and being named best upper-medium car title at this year’s Fleet News Awards has certainly helped. We are also starting to get good supply of the diesel-engined CR-V and this is beginning to make an impact too.’

Honda’s performance is all the more impressive when you consider that the Civic lower-medium car is currently in run-out mode yet has recorded a 50% rise in corporate sales in petrol guise.

Although the Accord is performing well, Hollings says it is a strong performance across the range, which is driving business from the Jazz supermini up.

He added: ‘There is a broadening availability of brands in the corporate market and with the major players seeing their share reduced it is a good opportunity. We have got a good product range, were number three in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey and a recent Sewells survey showed how good our corporate sales managers are.

‘We have high quality staff having good discussions with the B2B market.’ Elsewhere in the fleet sector, BMW and Nissan recorded strong rises, up 27% and 25% respectively.

  • COMMERCIAL vehicle sales up to 3.5 tonnes increased 5.1% in the first six months of the year – but not all sectors showed a rise. Small vans up to 1.8 tonnes showed a drop of 2.7%, while medium vans between 1.8 tonnes and 2.6 tonnes were up 7.1%, and heavy vans (2.8 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes) rose by 9%. Among the losers were LDV, down 5.27% despite the launch of the new Maxus in January, Mercedes-Benz, which saw sales fall by 10.57%, and Ford – down 5.83%. Meanwhile, the big winner was Volkswagen, up 23%, while Vauxhall rose 17%, Iveco was up 18% and Fiat rose 5%.

    Car sales figures for June

  • Fleet Panel, in association with the AA.
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