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Thursday, 6 July, 2000, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Rover slumps, BMW soars
Rover new car launch
Rover's resurgence appears to have been brief
Rover's brief sales revival - inspired by price-cuts - appears to have well and truly ended.

The loss-making UK firm, sold by Germany's BMW to a consortium led by its former chief executive, took just 3.9% of the new car sales market in June.

Best Sellers in June
1. Ford Focus
2. Ford Fiesta
3. Vauxhall Corsa
4. Vaxhall Astra
5. Peugeot 205
6. Vauxhall Vectra
7. Ford Mondeo
8. Fiat Punto
9. Renault Megane
10. Citroen Saxo
At the height of the row over Rover's sale, in April, high profile coverage and price cuts helped it to double its March market share to 13.5%.

But that spurt has ended in spectacular style with Rover selling 20% fewer cars in the month than it did in June 1999.

By contrast, the controversy appears to have done little damage to BMW whose sales soared by 23.5% compared with the same month in 1999.

A Rover spokesman told BBC News Online that the slump was caused by a lack of demand from car fleet buyers. Retail sales to private customers were holding up, he said.

The current low market share, he argued, was in line with projections and could rise again as Rover had now extended its offer for a 10% discount on new cars until the end of September.

Petrol rises

A total of 193,360 cars were sold - 1.6% down on the record-setting June of 1999, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Sales of small superminis soared, gaining 17% on the first half of 1999.

There was a suggestion this may have been partially prompted by the rocketing rise in petrol prices in recent months.

The sector has also been the focus for much price cutting in recent weeks as manufacturers seek to tempt buyers back into the market in the midst of the "rip-off Britain" campaign.

This has focused on UK cars costing more than those elsewhere in Europe and led to a Government inquiry which promised to lead to price cuts.

Nissan rises

However the recent price cuts seem to have helped shift stock. The cumulative total for new cars sold so far this year is 1,216,445 - 2.1% more than in the same period in 1999.

"The mix of new models, fantastic deals and the new (twice-a-year) plate-change system all meant that the first six months of 2000 were very strong," said SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan.

Nissan, which recently warned that the strong pound was threatening the future of its highly efficient Sunderland plant, enjoyed a 14.82% surge in sales.

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See also:

09 May 00 | Business
Can Phoenix turn Rover around?
02 May 00 | Business
The Rover breakdown
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What's left of the UK car industry
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Triumphant Rover's return
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