With a growth rate of 6.1% to 69,443, fleet sales in November grew by less than they have for the year to date period (10.7%), but it was still a respectable result.
The gradual increase in corporate confidence is making its presence felt, along with the fact that many customers have put off fleet replacements for as long as they can.
However, in 2011, car manufacturers will be hoping that the recovery in fleet sales accelerates – with the increase in VAT and government spending cuts starting to bite, retail customers may prove skittish next year.
At a manufacturer level, Vauxhall continued its strong growth in November. However, the gap to Ford is too big for Vauxhall to take market leadership in 2010, unless something extraordinary happens in December.
There is also some anecdotal evidence from dealers that Ford may have softened slightly its ultra hard-line on incentives.
In addition, 2011 will see the launch of the vitally important new Focus so, by the second half of 2011, Ford will be firing on all cylinders again.
The biggest growth was registered by BMW, which grew by more than half last month and by more than one third YTD. Interestingly, the growth has not come from the new 5 Series, but from its smaller cars. The BMW 1 Series saw fleet sales grow by 46.5%, which must be some sort of record for a car coming towards the end of its life.
With the 3 Series also growing by 29.5%, these two models now account for 75% of BMW fleet sales.
It will be interesting to see if BMW can maintain its rock-solid aspirational image when so many of its sales come from its more affordable cars.
In the mid table, it is interesting that so many manufacturers are bunched around 15,000 sales so far this year.
The two major Korean brands, Hyundai and Kia, are now firmly established for the first time as serious players – as if the traditional European brands did not already have enough to worry about.
Another brand which has established itself as a serious player in the fleet market this year is Mini. With the introduction of the Countryman, Mini will no longer be just a purveyor of mobile billboards to trendy estate agents and driving schools.
The Countryman is intended to go head-to-head with fleet favourites like the VW Golf and Nissan Qashqai.
With so many non-traditional brands getting serious about the fleet market, life can only get more competitive in 2011.
Click Here to see November's fleet sales.