Industry always places a high importance on fleet vehicle registrations as each month they make up around half of the total market. This year, even more attention is focused on business purchases as, post-scrappage, the private market is expected to be comparatively weak.

Last month, as private registrations dipped by 3% compared to 2009, fleet figures were up by 25% as businesses that had held-off purchases through recession intensified their fleet renewal.

The best selling fleet model so far this year has been the Ford Focus, followed by the Vauxhall Astra and while this is a familiar pattern, we are noticing an increasing uptake of low-carbon vehicles. SMMT’s latest analysis shows that fleet buyers tend to consider emissions to an even greater extent than private buyers with a CO2 reduction of 5% to 143.9g/km compared with June 2009 and 1.2g/km less than the overall market average in June 2010.

The drive to cut emissions, encouraged by lower company car tax bands and higher fuel costs, is increasing registrations of specifically eco-badged vehicles (e.g. top sellers include Mercedes‘ BlueEFFICIENCY, Vauxhall’s ecoFlex and VW‘s BlueMotion sub-brands). Registrations of these models and their alternatively fuelled stable mates have risen 135% in the first half of 2010.

There’s a host of new models on the horizon that are set to impact on the fleet market in the ever intensifying drive for lower tax bands. The UK-built Toyota Auris is the first full hybrid vehicle to be produced in Europe. This new model, plus alternative technology options such as the forthcoming UK-built Nissan Leaf broaden the options lists for those favouring lower tax vehicles.

SMMT’s fleet focus isn’t purely on numbers and CO2, the team here also works closely with partner organisation RoadSafe. It is raising awareness of the importance of considering safety as part of procurement processes. Evidence suggests that purchasing vehicles with the latest safety technologies, such as electronic stability control and speed alert systems, can reduce collisions and costs by up to 50%.

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