Fleet diesel sales for January rocketed 62.7% year-on-year to 25,542 units, with Volkswagen, Renault, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all reporting increases of more than 100%.
Two manufacturers, Audi and Renault, achieved 200%-plus sales increases to diesel fleets, although the Ford Focus remained the best-selling diesel car, pushing its sales up 14.9% to 1,887 units compared to January 2001.
Volkswagen had two of the top five best-selling fleet diesels last month, with the Passat the second best-selling diesel car, up 305.3% year on year to 1,775 sales, followed by the Peugeot 406 (1,727), Vauxhall Vectra (1,550, up 122%) and Volkswagen Golf (1,427, up 96%). The Ford Mondeo took sixth place, with 1,425 sales, up 281%.
Overall, diesel sales represented 28% of January's fleet market, but the growth in diesel sales accounted for total fleet sales increasing by 9.8% on January 2001. Petrol sales were down 2.5% at 65,838.
In the new car market as a whole, the Ford Focus retained its crown as best-selling fleet and retail car, although Vauxhall was the leading manufacturer in terms of fleet sales, with three of the top-five selling vehicles.
Renault and Volkswagen achieved increases of 48% and 56.1% respectively year-on-year, driven by their success in the diesel market.
In the sub-25 vehicle business car market, sales were up 27.1% to 22,568, while retail sales were up 5.3%, leaving the fleet market the best performing sector in January, the first time total business sales have outperformed the retail sector since mid-2000.
SMMT figures also show that average CO2 emissions for new cars sold in 2001 were the best on record. The average fell to 177.7g/km, down 1.8% on 2000.