July continued its trend of producing a surprise market leader, with last year's Rover 400 usurped in 1998 by the Fiat Punto as the best-selling fleet car.
The modest total of 1,433 Puntos was registered in July, a rise of 105.9% on the same month in 1997.
Official figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed fleet and retail sales combined to reach a total of 37,896 registrations last month, 5.1% up on 1997's figure of 36,069, but not enough to prevent the SMMT talking of a slowdown in the market. Ernie Thompson, SMMT chief executive, said: 'The July figures show the rate of market growth continued to slow with only a 5% increase in July, compared with a 7.8% increase during the first half of the year.'
Top 10 best-selling fleet manufacturers in July were: Ford 3,786, Fiat 3,115, Vauxhall 2,565, Peugeot 1,683, Rover 1,591, Volkswagen 1,306, Nissan 1,253, Renault 1,045, Daewoo 752, Toyota 681. Top 10 best-selling fleet cars in July were: Fiat Punto 1,443, Ford Mondeo 1,263, Ford Escort 1,260, Fiat Bravo/Brava 976, Vauxhall Vectra 913, Peugeot 306 847, Vauxhall Astra 776, Rover 400 775, Ford Fiesta 766, Renault Megane 644.