After all the last-minute excitement at the end of September, October was something of a quiet month. The fleet proportion was 52.0%, which was fractionally down on its pre-recession level (53.3% in October 2007), but of course the whole market was down.
According to dealers, the market has gone very quiet – showrooms are not quite at the stage where tumbleweed is blowing, but drumming up business seems to be harder than it has been since before the scrappage incentive.
At a manufacturer level, Vauxhall closed the gap a little further on Ford, despite losing market share overall. With a difference of under 6,000 units in total sales YTD between the two companies, it is possible that Vauxhall could finish the year as fleet market leaders, but that seems unlikely.
Ford can always open the discount tap a little further if it so chooses, and with so much good news coming out of Ford worldwide (its $1.7 billion profit for the third quarter, for example), it probably don’t want a bad news story from its biggest European market.
In fact, possibly a more interesting comparison than overall fleet sales is the proportion of fleet sales, which shows that who has some space to push fleet sales harder, if required (see fig 1).
These are the top six fleet operators in the UK and it is interesting that Audi and BMW now have amongst the highest fleet proportions in the industry. BMW, in particular has put on a big surge of fleet registrations as it fights to keep its traditional leadership amongst the premium brands.
Amongst the mid-table brands, most of the big movements have been pretty consistent throughout the year. Hyundai and Kia are doing very well, although Korean compatriot Chevrolet is struggling to get traction in the UK. Volvo is also doing well since it decided to focus on DrivE low-CO2 diesels which offer significant BIK benefits to company car drivers.
However, looking forward to 2011, one previously low-key manufacturer could make some noise in this market for the first time. Land Rover is in the process of launching its Freelander 2wd to be followed up by the Evoque 2wd in mid 2011. Why is 2wd important? It isn’t – what is important is the sub 160g/km CO2 figure of the Freelander and the sub 140g/km CO2 figure of the Evoque, which 2wd enables. Suddenly a lot of buyers of the default-choice German compact executive models could be getting quite interested in a Land Rover which would stand out, both literally and metaphorically, in the company car park.