Fleet's share of the new car market last month was down from 47.46% in January last year to 44.62% as overall sales increased 12.1% to 232,055 (January 1997: 206,985). However, with speculation rife that company cars could be a Budget target of Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown on March 17 it remains to be seen whether the record-breaking start to fleet sales in 1998 will be maintained. Motor industry experts expect 1998 new car sales figures to be about 2.1 million units, fractionally down on last year's 2.17 million units.
Almost half of the 5,000-vehicle rise in fleet sales can be attributed to Renault's stunning performance as it leapfrogged both Peugeot and Rover to take third place in the fleet sales chart behind Ford, which saw fleet sales drop 5.1% to 22,389 (23,594), and Vauxhall, whose fleet sales fell 11.7% to 16,898 (19,128). Renault's fleet sales rocketed 45.1% to 10,804 (7,444) with the Megane becoming the fifth best-selling fleet model - up from 11th in January 1997 - with sales of 4,670. Laguna sales dropped 8.2% to 3,047, but the model still took 10th spot in the chart with the Clio taking 11th as sales increased 82.6% to 2,761.
The Ford Mondeo was the best-selling fleet car last month with sales of 8,368 (down 22.8). It was followed by the Vauxhall Vectra, Ford Escort and Vauxhall Astra, which all experienced sales falls compared with January 1997.