"You are the trend!"
“You, the fleet industry, are the growing trend in the European car market”, said Marc Odinius (pictured) at the beginning of the Fleet Europe Forum in Rome, on 19 November. The Managing Director at Dataforce presented his 700-strong audience with an overview of current trends in the European automotive and fleet market.
Taxation and legislation was the first of three major trends he touched upon. “Yes, I know – urgh – but taxes and government rules will have an increasing impact on the market”. Even though diesels still represent 69% of the overall market (and petrol cars 26%), the former had been steadily dropping even before Dieselgate, to the advantage of petrol, and to a lesser extent alternative powertrains. “Diesel is perceived as an unclean powertrain, which is unfortunate, as it is the most fuel-efficient engine for fleets, especially over longer distances”. That negative perception will contribute to the higher taxes, levies and duties that are already hitting diesels, and other higher-emission vehicles.
SUVs and offroads
Analysing true fleet volumes for Europe's Top 7 markets, Odinius noted three stagnant segments – compact, small and mini – one in serious decline – middle-class vans – and one making enormous headway: SUVs and offroad vehicles. “Their rise is absolutely amazing and consistent throughout the past decade. Even in the depths of the crisis in 2009, their share was increasing”. Pretty soon, the segment (actually nowadays more like three or four separate segments) would soon overtake compacts as the most popular segment in Europe, Odinius predicted.
The third trend identified by the Dataforce executive was one that directly pertained to the fleet professionals that filled the auditorium: “Private vehicle sales have been in decline for some years, although that decline is now slowing. On the other hand, the share of fleet vehicle sales in the total has been creeping up for years, slowly but surely. Of the Top 12 car markets in Europe, only in Sweden did growth in private sales outpace growth in fleet sales. So, you, the fleet industry, are setting the trend!” In three of Europe's Big Five markets, fleet sales reached their highest figures ever: in Germany (900,000 units), the UK (780,000) and France (450,000).
Clearly, the footprint, and the influence, of the fleet industry within the wider automotive industry will continue to grow over the next few years.