Motor month

Tony Worthy

New car demand slowed for a second successive month in February.
In each of the past three years February has been the lowest volume
month and since 1999 has accounted for only 3.4 per cent of annual
registrations. New car demand over the first two months of the year
has fallen by 3.1 per cent. However, over a rolling six and 12
month period registrations stay up.

According to the SMMT the new car market is expected to slip to
2.345m units in 2008. A significant proportion of this fall is
expected to take place in the month of March, which was
particularly buoyant in 2007. March is the largest volume month and
in 2007 accounted for 18.7 per cent of annual demand. Volumes this
year are expected to slip to 425,000 units, down 5.4 per cent or
almost 25,000 units. Caution over the economic setting remains,
despite the modest cut in interest rates in February.The private
sector reported a modest net gain in market share in February,
moving from 32.9 per cent in 2007 to 33.3 per cent. However, the
volumes still declined and were down on a subdued 2007 performance.
Fleet and business volumes also fell in February and were down over
the year-to-date.

Car pre-registrations in January 2008 were reported by the SMMT
to be 509. BMW registered more than any other manufacturer with 314
and Ford the second highest with 176.

The annual rate of consumer price index (CPI) inflation rose by
less than expected in January to 2.2 per cent, from 2.1 per cent in
December. However, the Bank of England’s February Inflation Report
revealed that it expects CPI inflation to pick up quite sharply
over the coming months, given rising domestic energy bills and food
prices. However, the Bank’s task is to look through short-term
volatility to deliver its 2 per cent target over the medium term.
Indeed, inflation is expected to fall back later in the year,
helped by a slowing economy. Analysts have taken the report as a
signal the Bank might be able to cut interest rates once or
possibly twice, over the course of the year – less aggressive than
the market had expected.

Porsche has said it will take a controlling stake in Volkswagen,
in a deal that is potentially worth almost €10bn ($15.2bn, £7.7bn).
The maker of the luxury 911 sports car already holds 31 per cent of
VW shares. On Monday, its supervisory board agreed to raise the
stake to above 50 per cent.

Business drivers are collecting more fines for speeding than for
any other motoring offence, according to new figures. A recent
survey of GE Capital Solutions’ 55,000 strong fleet found that the
majority of fines (41 per cent) collected over the past year
resulted from drivers breaking the speed limit. Other common
offences included avoiding the congestion charge and the
accumulation of parking fines; however these indiscretions only
totalled around half the number of speeding tickets, at 22 per cent
and 20 per cent respectively.

Motor Finance Issue: 41 – March 08
Published for the web: March 28 08 11:59
Last Updated: March 28 08 12:1