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Vauxhall falters as Ford reasserts UK leadership

Success with the new Mondeo and improving sales of Focus across all its variants enabled Ford to recover market share during the first six months of the year. The detailed new car registrations from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reveal Ford's dominance across several market sectors as it reasserts its position as the top selling brand in the UK.

Ford's success has been largely at the expense of old-rival Vauxhall and emphasises the importance of product cycle in reviving sales. Looking back 18 months, Ford appeared to be in trouble, with old-shape Mondeo, an ageing Fiesta and Focus yet to reach full steam. Now the company is entering 2002 with a strong line-up and new Fiesta on the horizon.

On the other hand Vauxhall's new Vectra is some way away; Astra and Zafira sales appear to have peaked and new Corsa is not doing the business. The figures suggest Vauxhall has a tricky 12 months ahead.

Both companies must be watching the success of Peugeot's 206 with envy. Three years after launch the B-sector hatchback is continuing to pile on the sales and remains in short supply. Whether the 307 can be as successful remains to be seen. If not, Peugeot is in danger of becoming a one-product company as 406 is now on the slide.

Both the 4dr bodystyle and the large saloon (D-sector) continue to lose favour with buyers, the latter despite the success of new Mondeo. This is partly due to the run-out of the Renault Laguna but even fleet buyers are beginning to question the need for large saloons when family hatchbacks offer many of the features once considered exclusive. This trend is likely to accelerate as company car tax based broadly on fuel consumption is introduced.

This legislative change is fueling the rush to buy diesel and driver resistance has been largely overcome by the latest generation of high-technology engines. Diesel sales are up 22% in the half-year and are likely to rise still further. VW and Citroen are the main beneficiaries, though this is the one sector where the Peugeot 406 has held its own.

Citroen is benefiting from the enormous growth in compact MPVs where it is interesting to note the success of Xsara Picasso has only dented Renault Scenic marginally. These are new customers coming to the segment, not buyers changing allegiance. (Rupert Saunders. October 25, 2001)

To view the half-year registration figures sector-by-sector, including year 2000 comparison, click here.

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Capital's Income Plus supports dealers

International Motors dealers are already feeling the benefits of extra 'gap' (guaranteed asset protection) and credit protection insurance income thanks to the introduction of Income Plus.

The added-value service is available exclusively from Capital Bank Motor, International Motors joint venture partner in International Motors Finance Ltd.

Launched to the IM dealer network in July, Income Plus has a dedicated sales team which works closely with their state-of-the-art application processing system - Strategic Motor Solution (SMS).

This identifies customers who have bought a car through International Motors Finance but are undecided about taking Credit Protection Insurance and/or 'gap'. Using sophisticated techniques, SMS then targets those who are most likely to take up the insurance.

The team contacts these customers - with the full knowledge and consent of the dealer - to offer them 'gap' and/or CPI before the car is collected. The dealer receives commission for every insurance product sold to one of their customers by the Income Plus team.

The Income Plus process can also act as a safety net to ensure that customers who take out finance are offered the appropriate credit protection products.

In its first few months the results have been impressive with dealers already receiving the commission from these product sales.

The early successes are just a taste of what's to come. Income Plus is good for the customer, the dealer and for us. It's a unique service with a dedicated sales force working on behalf of the dealership to maximise product penetration.

There is the potential for 200 International Motors dealers to benefit from Income Plus. As the sales people build up a rapport with the dealership staff and get to know their business, we expect it to become even more successful. (Mike Gaffney, director, Capital Bank Motor)

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