By Andrew Cornelius
Rover’s share of the UK car sales market slumped badly last month, dashing any early hopes of the revival forecast earlier this year by chairman , Mr Graham Day. Latest UK car sales figures for May published by the society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed that Rover’s share of the market fell to 13.4 per cent. This compares with 15.8 per cent in 1986 and 17 per cent in the early months of the year. Ford , the market leader, took a 31.97 per cent in May against 26 per cent last year. Ford’s Escort, Fiesta and Sierra took the top three places in the UK top 10 car sales list last month, ahead of Rover’s Metro and the Vauxhall Astra and Cavalier.
Vauxhall/Opel took 13.01 per cent of the UK market in May, just behind Rover. Nissan had 5.99 per cent , Audi-VW 5.17 per cent and Peugeot Talbot 4.48 per cent. Total UK car sales were up by 9.5 per cent in May at 167,357, compared with May last year. UK-built cars continue to win back market share from importers , helped by more favourable exchange rates which encourage home production. The importers share of the market in May was 50.7 per cent, against 57.5 per cent in May last year.
The importers share for the first five months of the year fell below 50 per cent , compared with the 55_per cent achieved in 1986. The latest sales figures are a blow to Mr Day, who has revamped the marketing of Rover cars to help improve UK sales. Although Rover continues to improve its export performance , particularly in the United States, the company desperately needs to achieve higher UK sales to fill unused capacity at its car plants at Longbridge , Birmingham, and Cowley, Oxford.