SOURCE: AutowiredSales of used gas guzzlers increased in 2006
SALES OF used sports, luxury, SUVs and MPVs in the UK, last year - the ones likely to use more fuel - were the only ones to see an increase in sales.
"Despite larger vehicles, such as SUVs, coming under heavy criticism last year for the harm they cause to the environment, the downsizing that had been expected does not appear to have taken place," said Kirk Fletcher, managing director of Experian's Automotive division.
"However, that doesn't mean that 2007 will follow the same path. It is worth bearing in mind that during quarter four last year, the market share traditionally belonging to lower mediums (such as a Ford Focus) was taken over by the smaller segment B cars (such as the Vauxhall Corsa). This is the first time one of the smaller segments has taken over in terms of sales.
"And with the recent Budget announcement that drivers of the most polluting vehicles will face a 30% increase in road tax, it will be interesting to see how sales go over the following year."
Sales of cars aged between one and three years, which had been sporadic during quarter four, have seen a downward trend in the last two years. Sales of used cars aged three to six years old had seen increasing sales since 1999, but fell for the first time last year.
The only used cars to see an increase in sales were those aged between six to nine years old (0.4% rise). Sales of this age range have risen each year during quarter four since 1999.
Used cars falling into the 3 to 6-years and 6 to 9-years age brackets were the only ones to increase in sales in the last two years while the rest have fallen, according to Experian's car sales statistics.
Segment B used cars held their market share in terms of sales during October, November and December last year. This is the first time sales of segment B have overtaken the lower medium segment, which had always been the highest selling segment in the UK in terms of market share during this quarter.
The only segments to see an increase in sales during quarter four were segment A cars (e.g., Citroen C2), luxury (e.g., Audi A8), MPVs (e.g., Ford Galaxy), sports (e.g., Porsche Boxter) and SUVs (e.g., Mitsubishi Shogun).
The biggest fall in the sales came from both the upper medium segment (e.g., Toyota Avensis) and the lower medium segment (e.g., Fiat Stilo).
Sales of used executive cars (such as the BMW 5 Series) have been gradually falling since 2002, except for a slight rise in 2004, and, in quarter four 2006, reached their lowest point since Experian started collating this data 1999.
Sales of the highest selling used marque, Ford, fell by 6.1% compared to 2005 - the second highest fall in sales among the top ten used marques. Ford sales during this quarter have been falling since 2003, but 2005 saw the highest drop when sales fell by 8.4%. During 2006 as a whole, sales of used Fords fell by 6.4% - a more rapid decline than in 2005 (3.1%).
Nissan recorded the third highest fall in sales for quarter four.
Volkswagen saw the highest increase for the quarter (rising 0.7%), but BMW saw the highest increase in used car sales for the year as a whole (rising 5.6%).
"2005 was the first year the industry had seen a drop in the number of used cars sold and 2006 saw sales drop further still, following the pattern we have been seeing the new car industry since 2004. However, it was interesting to see that the fall in sales during 2006 was not as harsh as expected, considering that the number of business failures in the automotive industry during 2006 reached its highest point for several years," said Fletcher.
"This indicates that consumer spending is starting to pick-up and that dealers have been attaching various incentives to their stock to pull in the customers. 2007 has started well in terms of new car sales. However, consumers are still cautious and with the likelihood of another possible interest rate rise in May, we have yet to see if the sales volumes will hold up."