The UK True Fleet market shrank by 4.8% in February, worrying some observers that this could be the beginning of a longer slump.
Figures released by Dataforce also show the overall British market shrank by 0.3% to around 83,000 registrations, with the Private market dropping no less than 4.4%. The Special Channels market (+22.2%) attempted to fill some of the void left by other segments.
In the True Fleets manufacturers ranking, Ford won out for the fifth month straight over Opel/Vauxhall, its long-time rival for the top spot. VW was on three but Nissan, on four, was the highest-placed brand to grow (+9.9%). Next in line were Mercedes (+18.5%), BMW and Audi. Toyota (+93.3%), Skoda (+29.1%) and Kia (+51.1%) filled out the top ten.
Toyota’s excellent results were propelled by the new C-HR, but most by the Aygo (+242.9%), which represented 40.8% of Toyota’s True Fleet sales in February.
Dataforce also looked in to the rising preference for automatic transmissions in the UK True Fleet market (see graph). While manual transmission is still predominant, more and more fleets are opting for automatic transmissions, which offer better fuel economy, lower CO2 emissions and a more comfortable ride.
The share of automatic transmission cars in the True Fleet market has more than doubled from 16.3% in 2004 to 35.3% now. For some manufacturers, the figure is much higher than this market average.
In 2016, 97.5% of Porsche registrations were for cars with automatic or semi-automatic transmissions, but of course the total number of registrations was quite small – less than a thousand. However, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi and Mercedes all managed 62%, each with registrations in the five digits.
Volvo True Fleet customers also favour automatic, although with a narrower margin (53.3%). Tesla, Maserati and Nexus achieved the highest possible score, with only automatic transmissions.
Overall, Audi True Fleet customers still prefer a manual transmission, but while that is true for models like the A4 (64.2%) and Q3 (57.4%), the opposite is true for the A5 and Q3 (58.3% and 83.9% pro automatic).
Images: Alan Murray-Rust, CC BY-SA 2.0; Dataforce