That every car manufacturer saw a decline in its proportion of fleet sales last year is no surprise. Given the impact of the scrappage incentive on the private market, any manufacturer that shifted towards fleet sales would have been pursuing a very strange strategy.
However, that is not to say there were no interesting shifts in the fleet market in 2009.
At the top of the table, in terms of proportion of total cars sold to large fleets, was Vauxhall. That was to be expected, but Vauxhall did see a higher- than-average move towards retail sales. How much of that was due to factors connected to Vauxhall’s near-death experience is hard to tell.
Some fleet customers were undoubtedly spooked by the events surrounding GM.
Interestingly, Audi nearly overtook Vauxhall as the most fleet-oriented brand in the UK.
At present, Audi’s reputation is pretty well bullet-proof, but it does not want to become known as suppliers of posh cars for fleet buyers. On the plus side, the forthcoming A1 may help to build its presence in the retail market.
The gap between Audi and Ford (in third place) has grown for a number of reasons. Ford has the new retail-oriented Fiesta as the star of its range, which is a positive factor, but there is also a negative issue.
Ford’s aggressive response to the falling pound means its P11D prices can look off-putting: there is no Mondeo with a list price below £19,000 and the Focus starts at more than £17,500.
Behind Ford comes Volkswagen, which makes for an interesting potential scenario in 2010: once Ford has sold off Volvo, the VW Group is likely to be selling more fleet cars in the UK than Ford.
Further down the table, the most significant change came from Volvo, which cut its fleet proportion from 64.0% to 44.7%. That marks a significant improvement, as Volvo repositioned its range to appeal to private buyers.
Renault also cut its fleet proportion sharply from 50.6% to 35.8% – a very low figure for a mainstream brand. However, there are signs that Renault is coming back into the fleet market.