The UK has continued to recover from the massive drop caused by WLTP in September. While still in negative territory it has reduced the gap to December 2017 to only 1.1% (a little over 600 units) and for 2018 vs 2017 to – 6.6%. The race to remain Europe’s #1 fleet market in terms of volume is still alive but it is certainly going to be a close race with Germany as both battle on the final straight. The Private market like fleets also continued to recover bringing the December gap to – 3.8% though Special channels took their foot off the gas and recorded a – 15.3% with both the Short-Term Rental & Dealership/Manufacturer sub-channels playing a somewhat equal role in this result.
Top of the December ranking Christmas tree was VW, it has been consistently in top spot since May 2018 with the only blot on the landscape coming in September when Vauxhall (Opel) took top as WLTP testing became mandatory. Ford were in 2nd place, retaining the same position as last year thanks mostly to a stellar month for Ecosport. Munich OEM BMW had a good growth month, ranking 2nd in highest growth rate in the top ten which secured the final place on the podium. Their number one seller for December was the 5 Series, which almost out registered the 1 Series (number two seller) by two to one!
Vauxhall came next (4th) and Mercedes followed, with both A-Class and GLA Class contributing the most to the + 19.4% growth of the brand. Nissan, Skoda, Audi and Hyundai filled out the 6th to 9th positions respectively, Audi was the hardest hit in terms of volume contraction but none of these OEMs managed a positive month. Our final position was yet another reason for Munich and the BMW Group to celebrate as MINI entered the True Fleet top 10 for the first time ever (according to Dataforce records). The maker of diminutive vehicles posted a pretty big growth of 59.3% for December as all versions (One/Cooper, Countryman and Clubman) pitched in to help the brand. Interesting side note was to see the share of Diesel engine versions at 3.6%, its lowest since April 2007 and a far away from the high of 74.0% seen in December 2013.
As we finish out 2018 on what can only be described as a challenging year thanks to various influences both from inside and outside of the industry itself it is worth identifying those vehicle segments which have increased regardless of the climate. On the first level SUV is the only outright segment which can claim growth with a 12.1% increase with three of the SUV sub-segments i.e. Small, Compact and Medium producing 19.7%, 12.9% and 5.6% respectively over YTD December. We see PC Medium-Large with a + 8.8% (mostly thanks to the BMW 5 Series) and the Utilities Medium eking out a + 1.4% (thanks to the Ford Transit Custom, Toyota Proace, Citroën Dispatch (Jumpy) and VW Transporter).
Flash addendum: Germany numbers are now in-house and have been processed. For the full year 2018, Germany beat the UK to take the highest True Fleet volume in Europe by a slim margin of 974 registrations.