Fleet sales for February were 46,170, up 1.5% on February last year, in total putting fleet at 136,945 for 2007, up 6.2% against 2006’s position.
The combination of strong fleet sales and weak retail registrations means that fleet is enjoying one of the widest margins in share terms for years. It takes a total of 57.3% of the new car market, while retail has only 36.9%.
Industry analysts believe the reasons could be twofold: increasingly companies are ditching cash payments for employees to buy privately in favour of company cars because of duty of care concerns. In addition, the low retail sales mean manufacturers are having to push cars into fleet, inflating the figures.
Of the manufacturers, Ford and Vauxhall continue to dominate, although Vauxhall’s smaller fleet growth is due to its concentration of retail sales, especially with the new Corsa, which is up almost double on where the old one was last year with private buyers.
Audi continues to make in-roads into the fleet heartland and has consolidated its position ahead of traditional players such as Honda, Citroën, Renault and Nissan.
Up 29.5% year-on-year at 7,804, its biggest fleet seller, the A4 (2,984, up 25.9%), sold nearly as many units as the entire BMW range, which totalled 3,284.
Other highlights include a positive in the sales column for the first time in a long time for Nissan. Struggling with a non-existent core fleet offering since the failure of Primera and anonymity of Almera, it is seeing huge interest in its new crossover car, the Qashqai, and orders are around 30% ahead of target.
Overall sales are up 21.2% at 4,081, although the firm believes the full effect of Qashqai is yet to be felt.
Toyota is also markedly ahead compared to the same time in 2006. Thanks to new Yaris and RAV4 introduced last year, up 55.2% and 41.5% respectively, and the Auris recently replacing Corolla, Toyota’s total fleet sales have risen 38.4% to 6,585 on the same period last year.
Top 10 models in fleet
|YTD 2007||YTD 2006||% change|