Renault increased its sales by almost the same margin, and strong growth from Peugeot, Nissan, Fiat, Volkswagen and Toyota helped total fleet registrations to exceed the one million barrier for only the second time in history. Overall, the fleet market accounted for 1,055,816 new cars, 3.7% up on 1997's figure of 1,018,491, and representing 47% of the UK's new car market of 2,247,402 units, up 3.5% on 1997's sales performance of 2,170,725 cars.
This made 1998 the second highest year yet for new car sales, behind only 1989 when 2,300,944 cars were registered. But registered, rather than sold, may be the operative word with Mitsubishi reopening the self-registration debate by accusing volume manufacturers of pre-registering as many as 400,000 cars during the year, and claiming that the true picture for 1998 was about 1,847,122 sales.
The Mondeo was the best-selling fleet car, achieving 77,101 registrations, although this represented a fall of 8.7% compared to 1997.
Chief rival Vauxhall saw its fleet sales fall 3.4% in 1998 to 170,413 (176,368) due largely to a lack of availability of diesel engines and initially the new Astra estate. Overall, the Astra's year-on-year sales were 6.5% down at 52,055, but the Vectra remained the second best-selling fleet car with 68,346 registrations, just 0.6% down on 1997.