The fleet proportion of 55.81% in June's new car registrations continues the trend of recent months, meaning the year-to-date fleet share is now 52.2%, which is the highest figure for many years.
At the top of the table is Vauxhall, although Ford did reduce the gap somewhat last month. Vauxhall’s lead is down to two models: the Meriva and the Insignia. The Meriva currently has no Ford rival as the Fusion is being put out of its misery and the radical B-Max is not due to appear for another six months or so. The jury is still out on whether the Insignia is a runaway success or a residual value timebomb waiting to explode: it is outselling the VW Passat by 2:1 and the Ford Mondeo by 3:1.
Behind the two traditional leaders, the almost-as-traditional German advance continues apace. BMW and Audi continued to increase both sales and penetration and are pulling ever-further ahead of the traditional mid-markets competitors, such as Peugeot, Citroen and Nissan. However, the most symbolic figure came from Kia, who sold more fleet cars last month than Toyota. Ten years ago, Toyota was outselling Kia by 12:1 – indeed Kia sold more fleet cars in June 2011 than it did in the whole of 2001. As if that was not scary enough for other manufacturers, the new Rio is about to be launched in the UK, which marks the completion of the of the modern Kia range.
Unsurprisingly, it is at least one quantum leap ahead of the previous model.
The company is most serious trouble is probably Fiat. It has registered only 5,100 fleet cars so far this year, which is almost exactly half of Skoda’s equivalent sales. Half of Fiat’s fleet sales come from the evergreen 500, but that one model cannot be expected to carry the company indefinitely. With three-quarters of its fleet sales in city cars and superminis, Fiat desperately needs some marketable medium cars.
In fact this is becoming an ever-more important requirement for all competitors. With the lower medium segment taking 42.8% market share so far in 2011, against 38.3% YTD 2010, a successful C-segment car is often the difference between success and failure. It is the success of the i30 and Cee’d that have powered the Koreans, while the failure of the Bravo has crippled Fiat. Despite the fragmentation of the market with ever more types of car, the heartland small family car is at least as important as it has ever been.
The overall message so far this year seems to be that life is OK for premium brands, value brands and the traditional stalwarts of Ford and Vauxhall. Life for the European and Japanese mid-market brands has never been tougher.
Author: Jay Nagley