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Leading carmakers bullish on prospects

Major car manufacturers remain bullish about the prospects for the 2011 market.

Several have told AM they predict next year’s registrations to be ahead of 2010’s current year-end forecast of two million units.

Many predict a continuing recovery in the fleet and business market and some said they were taking action to address some of the supply shortages that have led to considerable lead times for certain cars.

However, some industry sources warn that more stability of exchange rates may mean a return to artificial forcing of the market through pre-registration and short-cycle leasing.
At Vauxhall, managing director Duncan Aldred is forecasting a 2.1m market.

Much of Vauxhall’s focus is on improving its retail market share. Product opportunities for his dealers will include the Astra Sport Tourer, whose marketing message will emphasise that it is built at Ellesmere Port and so supports British industry.

Ford of Britain managing director Nigel Sharp forecasts a 2.2m market in 2011. He expects his company’s recent strategic realignment, which saw list prices cut and dealer margins reduced, to put Ford in a stronger position and maintain its market leading position.

“I’m a proud man so I would not like to lose the number one spot. I think we can remain as market leader, but with a different mix of business.

“We may do less with daily rentals and big fleets but our new models put us in segments where we were previously not present – such as the new seven-seat C-Max.”

Volkswagen Group UK managing director Robin Woolcock also predicts a 2.2m market and said he was confident that his group’s brands would take a larger share of new car sales next year.

Woolcock said: “We’re improving the share of all four car brands, but we can still do more.
“The only thing that has been hold-ing us back this year is availability.

We under-called the market because we knew scrappage would end and everybody was being a bit cautious.

“Demand is there and it’s up to us now to take advantage of it.”

Next year’s opportunities for the group will include the new Passat and Jetta from Volkswagen, plus the first full year sales of Audi’s A1.

“Through the recession our group continued to make money and never stopped investing in new products which will give customers a reason to buy.

“Our diversity is a strength. We have a sporty brand in Seat, great value for money in Skoda, premium brand Audi and in Volkswagen we have something for everybody.

“The more choice we can give our customers the better it is for us.”

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