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YOUNG AT HEART: The screw tightens

Date: 15 August 2008

Tristan Young is Editor-in-chief of BusinessCar

Predictions of an economic downturn have finally turned to reality for the fleet car market.

It was only a matter of time before the slowdown that was evident in the past few months turned into a year-on-year drop in new car registrations.

Nobody in the BusinessCar office was surprised to see 7.6% fewer cars being sold to fleet in July 2008 than July 2007.

What did cause the odd raised eyebrow was the fact that not all the top 10 manufacturers have suffered from the credit crunch.

Ford and BMW saw a boost in sales of 13.8% and 30.6%, while Toyota and Nissan managed an increase of 1.1% and 19.3% respectively.

The green message appears to be one motivation behind buyers' choices - Toyota's biggest year-on-year riser was, you guessed it, the Prius. BMW's low CO2 Efficient Dynamics technology will surely not be doing the brand any harm either.

But before everyone gets too depressed and starts knitting jumpers for when they can't afford the heating bills this winter, it's important to remember that timing has a lot to answer for as well.

Ford's new Mondeo is well and truly settled and is reaping the rewards of numerous awards, including our Business Car of the Year prize. Meanwhile, Vauxhall is in the process of phasing out the Vectra before the launch of its new Insignia.

On the plus side, with so many brands experiencing a dip in sales, it may be time to haggle hard and pick up the discounts.