With one month still to go before the end of the year, the fleet market is 4.8% up on 2001 with 1,019,119 sales, compared to 972,087 last year.
Fleet sales for this December just need to equal last year's figure of 59,342 to push the market to an all-time record. In 1998, the best year on record for fleet sales, the market reached 1,055,816 vehicles, but this year could see the market reach 1.08 million.
For the year to date, private sales are up just 1.7% at 1,175,310, nearly equal to the one million fleet market, while business sales are 224,626, up 9.9%. Indeed, for the third month in a row, the booming fleet market offset a lacklustre performance in the private sector.
While private sales collapsed by 16.8% to 75,384, fleet sales were up 2.1% at 81,819, while business sales jumped 7% to 14,471 compared to last year. This left total sales for the month down 6.8% at 171,674, still the second highest figure for November on record.
For the year to date, the total market is still up by 3.7% and experts predict the year-end will see new car sales beat last year by 80,000, reaching 2.54 million.
Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: 'Sales have cooled a little over the past couple of months but in the first 11 months more cars have been sold than are normally bought in an entire year.'
In both the fleet and retail markets, the Ford Focus continues to dominate, but in overall fleet sales the race is much closer.
Ford is the best-selling fleet manufacturer so far this year, but it is only a few hundred units ahead of Vauxhall, which has seen sales so far this year rise by 7.3%. Toyota has also pushed sales up 22.1% year-on-year.
Vauxhall closed the sales gap with Ford last month by topping the sales table, with demand up 13.5% to 18,377. Ford was in second place with sales down 2.3% to 15,146.
For the month, the Ford Focus was the best-selling car, followed by the Vauxhall Astra, Vectra and Corsa, with the Ford Mondeo fifth.
In the diesel market, the Ford Mondeo is the best-selling diesel so far this year, followed by the Focus, which dominated the market for much of 2002. Ford also tops the manufacturer league table for fleet diesel sales for the year-to-date, with demand up 36.2%, at 53,271. Peugeot is second, with sales up 26.3% at 47,687, while Volkswagen has taken third place with sales up 48.1% at 42,757.
Among the biggest winners of the year so far are Renault, with diesel sales up 85% to 24,590, Audi (up 105% to 17,071) and Volvo (up 432% to 8,354). For November, the Ford Mondeo was the best-selling diesel and Ford topped the overall monthly sales charts, with diesel sales up 25.2%.
Diesel accounted for 32% of fleet sales last month and overall, including private sales, a record 27.1% of car sales in November were diesel.
To view more details of fleet and private sales for November and the year to date click here