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Fleet sales prop up UK car industry

  • Fleet sales up in 2011 while private sales are down
  • Diesel cars continue to occupy more than half of sales
  • Top-selling fleet car in July was Ford's Focus

Fleet sales continue to give new car registrations a more optimistic outlook, despite registrations falling for the 13th month running in July.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), new car registrations fell 3.5% compared to the same month in 2010. However, the figures could be worse were it not for fleet registrations. These were up 2.1% on July 2010 and have increased by 3.3% over the year-to-date.

Without the company car figures, private new car registrations fell by 9.2% in July, and have dropped by 17.3% over the year. According to the SMMT, sluggish economic recovery following the recession, high inflation and a modest wage growth are acting as dampers to customer confidence.

July is the 13th month in a row that car sales have declined, although industry chiefs still expect to meet the full year forecast of 1.93 million units in 2011.

Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive, explains: "Robust demand in the fleet sector helped to bolster weaker private demand. While the coming months remain challenging, performance in the second half of 2011 is expected to keep the (car sales) market on course to reach around 1.93 million units."

The best-selling fleet car for the month was the Ford Focus which came ahead of Vauxhall's Insignia. This was followed by the Ford Fiesta, VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra.

Diesel sales continue to increase and now occupy more than half of total sales, with 52.4% of the overall market in July and 50.2% over the year-to-date.

The top-selling diesel model in July was Vauxhall's Insignia which just pipped the VW Golf to top spot.