Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that the March new car market was down 1.6% year-on-year to 435,847 units.
Of this figure, private sales showed a slight increase of 483 units, taking its share of the market to 46.7% year-to-date.
Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: ‘Some excellent deals have seen new car buyers heading back to dealerships although a reasonable March cannot mask the poor start to the year, and 2006 will continue to be a challenge for the industry as we fight for every sale.’
Fleet sales were down 3.8%, leaving fleet with a 46.6% market share while business sales to fleets with 25 vehicles or less were down 18.5% to a 6.7% share. Ford remained the best-selling fleet manufacturer with sales up fractionally to 57,951 year-to-date. Vauxhall was once again in second spot with 53,996 registrations, although this was a drop of 13.1% year on year.
The Focus remains the top selling fleet car with sales up 10.3% while the Astra continues to run it close despite a 2.5% drop in sales. This reflects the market trend with lower-medium cars once again out-selling their larger upper-medium stablemates, giving them a 29.4% share of the fleet market, compared to 22.4%. Other sectors showing good progress include luxury saloons, up a massive 74.7% in fleet year-to-date, and off-roaders and coupes, which are both up 15.1%.
Total fleet sales up 40.3% YTD thanks to rises across the range – A3 up 38.4%, A4 up 34.0%, A6 up 68%, A8 up 154.0% and TT up 30.4%.
Total fleet sales up 21.7% thanks to 1-series up 18.8%, 3-series up 56.6%, 5-series up 7.5%, 7-series up 117.9% and X5 up 46.4%
Total fleet sales down 19.9% with a heavy 67.4% fall for the Accord.
Total fleet sales down 36.7% with Micra down 18.5%, Almera down 59.4%, Primera down 53.9% and X-trail down by 28.6%
Total fleet sales down 30% with falls across the range – Clio down 19.7%, Megane down 20.1%, Scenic down 29.6%, Laguna down 31.9%, Espace down 55% and Modus down 76.6%