Record fleet registrations drive car market to new high
09 February 2016
It's interesting in the model mix that the volume is being shared around more. Last year, the threshold for getting into the top 50 was 7352, but in 2015 that went up to 8567, with the Range Rover Evoque being in 50th place.
Heading the top 50 was Ford's Focus, the perennial fleet favourite, although the Fiesta moved up to second at the expense of the beleaguered Volkswagen Golf, and closed in significantly on its bigger brother.
Vauxhall's Mokka was the big mover in the top 10, climbing into eighth spot with a 72.2% rise in fleet registrations as another illustration of the growth of the compact crossover sector, which also showed strong results for the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008, as well as being behind Fiat and Jeep's rises.
Illustrating Mercedes' growth in fleet, the C-class, E-class and S-class all led their segments, although the fact that there are only three Merc models in the top 50, compared with four Audis and five BMWs, tells its own story about the breadth of the relative ranges. But the C-class, perhaps surprisingly, knocked the BMW 3-series off its compact executive perch, pushing it out of the top 10 fleet models by 340 units as a result.
Biggest climber in the top 50 was Ford's Kuga, jumping 20 places to land in the top dozen fleet models, while a full year of the Mini hatchback's five-door addition led to a 19-place climb.
Heading more than 10 places in the other direction were a pair of mini-MPVs in the form of the Citroen C4 Picasso and Ford C-max (the latter being refreshed mid-year), the outgoing Hyundai ix35, Audi's A4, which was replaced by a new model in September, and Seat's Leon, which suffered a 15-place drop, the biggest fall in fleet registrations among the top 50 at 17.8%.
Top new entry was the BMW 4-series, with the Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1, BMW 2-series, Volvo XC60 and aforementioned Outlander and Evoque also charting for the first time. They replaced the DS 3, Nissan Note, Honda Jazz, Kia Ceed, Ford B-max, Skoda Yeti and Jaguar XF.
The continued controversy surrounding diesel fuel and air quality at least partly contributed to a drop in diesel's share of the market, going from 50.1% down to 48.5%, with the drop in fuel prices also likely to be an influencing factor. Petrol headed the other way, adding one percentage point on 2014 to get to 48.8%, overtaking diesel, with the rest being the 2.8% share achieved by alternative fuels. The SMMT predicts diesel will drop away again this year to 47.7% of the market.
With the new car market at the mercy of wider economic issues such as the potentially fragile Chinese economy, the SMMT's latest prediction is a small fall in new car registrations in 2016, and another in 2017, with the number dropping by around 22,000 this year and a further 30,000 in the next.
But the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association is predicting further growth of a single-digit percentage among its rental and leasing members this year. "This growth will be led by innovation in product design, flexibility and delivery," says chief executive Gerry Keaney. "As fleets seek lower running costs, demand for more efficient cars has grown, and the BVRLA expects that the lease fleet will continue to reduce its average CO2 emissions and outpace the wider new car market."
Keaney says that average fleet emissions would drop to around 115g/km this year, while new cars registered by its members will average below 110g/km.