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HALF-YEAR SALES FIGURES: Top 100 models and top 40 makers so far in 2008

Date: 23 July 2008

Early signs of the credit crunch are beginning to show in the fleet registration figures. Numbers are still up, but only just, and for how long? Paul Barker reports on how the market has shaped up in the first half of 2008

The half-year sales figures provide another indication of a slow-down in the economy. While overall new car registrations for the first half of 2008 sit at 1.6%, down on the same period of 2007, June on its own was 6.1% down.

As would be expected in such times, the fleet market fared significantly better than retail, but the evidence was still there. While the year-to-date growth in the business market is up 2.0%, June was just 0.2% up, although that's still a small rise.

Fleets registered 629,344 cars, 12,070 more than Jan-June '07 and over half of the new cars so far this year - 50.4% against the 48.7% market share of this time last year, thanks mainly to the slipping retail market.

There's been a change at the top of the fleet makers' table. Ford has been passed by arch-rival Vauxhall on the back of success for the new Corsa, backed up by Zafira and the outgoing Vectra, which will be replaced by the Insignia late this year. Ford has suffered from double-digit drops across its key Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo lines. However, the Fiesta is being replaced by a new model in October and the Focus was facelifted at the beginning of this year.

VW and Peugeot maintain third and fourth place, but Audi and BMW both overtake the other traditional big volume brand of Renault, which recorded the biggest percentage fall in the top 10, down 16.6%. Toyota, Mazda and Fiat also recorded falls.

Further down the list, Nissan's Note and Qashqai continue to rapidly propel the brand forward, while Kia's Ceed is providing new levels of opportunity for a brand that has suffered mixed fleet fortunes in recent times. The Freelander is providing the extra volume that's moving Land Rover up the table, and the new Mini's no-brainer of a costs equation thanks to desirability and ultra-low running figures has seen the brand climb into the top 20 at the expense of a sliding Saab, which is desperate for new models that are still some way off.

The top two remained the same in the top 100 models table, with the Ford Focus again leading Vauxhall's Astra, although both saw a drop in fleet volumes. The new Mercedes C-class has obviously found its fleet feet, breaking into the top 20 a shade behind the Audi A4, although both are still adrift of BMW's 3-series in the prestige saloon battle. Highest new entry goes to the eleventh-placed Peugeot 308, managing one position better than its 307 predecessor recorded last year.

The next six months will probably be a challenging period for the industry, which should make next January's full-year registration figures' analysis on the an interesting read.