Exceptional year for EU-5 true fleet market

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The EU-5 true fleet market stepped up a gear in 2017 with one exception, according to latest figures from Dataforce.

Row of cars

The UK was the only EU-5 true fleet market to see a downturn in 2017.

Although all markets suffered disruption from political or ‘Dieselgate’ issues, the UK was the only one to contract, with true fleet registrations down 5.8%. This compares to growth of 12.5% in Spain, 7.2% in France, 6.2% in Italy and 2.1% in Germany – with overall EU-5 true fleet growth of 1.6%.

Looking in more detail at Spain, the fleet market in 2017 was the only sector in the EU-5 to achieve positive growth for every single month on the back of a record 2016. In fact, the last time this market showed a monthly decline was back in January 2014. Spain has also recorded annual true fleet growth for four years in a row. Meanwhile, the country’s total market finished a little over 8,000 units shy of the 1.3 million mark for 2017, which was its best year since 2007, with the private market up 4.6% while special channels was up 12.9%.

In France, after a stuttering start to 2017, registrations were on an upward trajectory from May, with only December softening slightly. As a result, the total market hit the 2.11 million threshold at the end of 2017, with all market segments participating in the growth and representing one of best annual results ever for the French market. The true fleet market was especially buoyant and achieved a new all-time record, growing by robust 7.2%, and while the private market’s year-on-year increase was rather smaller (+ 2.3%), the annual registrations from private customers rose for the third time in a row. The remaining special channel segment grew alongside the true fleet market at a somewhat similar rate (+ 7.4%).

Turning to Italy, the country once again saw solid results within the true fleet market. Despite two negative months blemishing the track record, the Italian market has produced an increase over last year’s registration numbers of +6.2%. The total market had its best year since 2009 ending with around 2.1 million registrations. Private registrations also had their best year since 2010 in terms of volume though as a market share this channel has continued to contract and while true fleet has been taking some of this slack, it is perhaps the other channel garnering some un-wanted records. Finally, the special channels segment has produced its highest numbers of registrations ever, and these tactical registrations have continued to help further boost the overall picture though it is unlikely that these practices are either sustainable or good in the long-term for the Italian marketplace.

Within Germany, not only was the true fleet market able to grow the fourth time in a row, it also completed its journey with another new all-time record. The increase of +2.1% is all the more significant when taking into account that 2016 was already the best year on record for true fleets in Germany and therefore a truly challenging benchmark.

Finally, the UK car market went through some turbulent times in 2017. Looking at the total market, 2.54 million new registrations appear fairly decent when compared to the 10-year average of 2.28 million. However, absolute volumes were 5.7% shorter than 2016 comparatives and many dealerships suffered from lower margins.

The same is true for the fleet market that posted a 5.8% drop in new registrations while at the same time the absolute volume was still one of the highest.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.