April's fleet sales drop - only February so far this year has recorded a year-on-year fleet sales increase - means total fleet sales in 2001 are 8.1% down on the first third of last year at 353,879 (2000: 385,091. Meanwhile, total new car sales this year are 3.2% up at 855,079 (2000: 828,947). Ford, which saw fleet sales surge 23.1% year-on-year last month, took the top two spots in the best-sellers' league chart with the Focus and Mondeo. Meanwhile, Vauxhall recorded a 22.1% sales fall year-on-year and Renault overtook Peugeot to claim a rare third spot in the league table largely on the strength of Megane fleet business as the model claimed a surprise third place ahead of both the Vauxhall Astra and Vectra.
But manufacturers believe the continuing buoyancy of diesel fleet registrations is down to both fleet managers and company car drivers reacting to next April's change in company car tax to a system based on carbon dioxide emissions. Diesel cars offer lower CO2 figures than equivalent petrol models and a 16.4 % year-on-year rise in fleet diesel registrations to 16,404 (April 2000: 14,094) means that last month fractionally over one in five fleet cars registered was a diesel. Total diesel car sales last month were 30,264 (April 2000: 24,454) up 23.8%.
Booming fleet diesel sales mean the sector is 12.9% up year-on-year at 70,043 (2000: 62,024) contributing to an 18.2% first third rise in total diesel sales to 134,061 (2000: 113,387). The surprise package in last month's fleet diesel sales was Ford taking number one spot with a 40.1% year-on-year rise in sales largely due to Mondeo, which seized the number one best-selling fleet diesel model spot. Peugeot, the traditional fleet diesel number one, recorded year-on-year sales down 4.9% with the 406 taking runner-up spot in the best-selling models chart.