Fleet diesel sales increased year-on-year in both January and March and last month they surged 12% to 15,291 (May 1999: 13,655) as total diesel car sales increased 13.2% to 26,989 (May 1999: 23,848).
Following the May surge, fleet diesel sales are just 0.4% behind last year's five-month tally at 77,355 (1999: 77,671) with total diesel car sales standing at 140,411 (1999: 137,579).
Of the top four fleet diesel manufacturers Peugeot (up 5.9%), Vauxhall (up 44.7%) and Ford (up 11.6%) all saw sales increase last month, while Volkswagen recorded a 9.9% fall. The Peugeot 406 was the best-selling fleet diesel car last month, narrowly ahead of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot.
Peugeot's fleet marketing manager Arnold Bailey said: 'There have been a lot of scare stories about the impact of the CO2-based tax on diesel. But the message is getting through and as a result there is a much greater awareness that even if diesel carries a 3% levy under the new tax system, diesel is still good news for fleets. We are receiving many more enquiries for diesel cars.'
That view was backed by Vauxhall fleet marketing manager, Keith Michaels, who said: 'We saw a massive growth in May for our dual-fuel vehicles and we are now trying to increase production of those vehicles. But in discussions with fleet managers they are prepared to look at diesel as a 'green' alternative to dual-fuel vehicles, so the message on the potential cleanliness of diesels is getting through.'
Top 10 best-selling fleet diesel manufacturers in May were: Peugeot 3,298, Vauxhall 2,886, Ford 2,868, Volkswagen 1,647, Renault 879, Citroen 832, Audi 466, BMW 312, Mercedes-Benz 271, Nissan 267.
Top 10 best-selling fleet diesel models in May were: Peugeot 406 1,289, Ford Focus 1,263, Vauxhall Astra 1,241, Peugeot 306 1,214, Vauxhall Vectra 906, Ford Mondeo 788, VW Passat 632, VW Golf 631, Peugeot 206 551, Renault Laguna 376.