Overall fleet sales in February dropped by 9.67% year-on-year to 41,895, accounting for 47.6% of total car sales. Business sales, for fleets of less than 25 vehicles, were down 10.2% to 6,395, or 7.3% of the total market for February.
Ford was the top-selling fleet manufacturer, with 9,463 sales, but demand was down by 26% compared to February last year. Vauxhall was second, with 8,346 diesel sales, down 11.4% compared to February last year, while Renault was third, with 4,319 sales, up 12%.
Peugeot saw sales slump 31% last month year-on-year to 2,939, but Toyota, Audi and Rover all enjoyed double-digit rises.
Ford's Focus continued as the best-selling diesel car last month.
The mixed fortunes of manufacturers left fleet sales for the year-to-date down by 13% at 120,005, with business sales down by 3.1% to 10.4% of the market.
Vauxhall, the best-selling fleet manufacturer so far this year, has nearly bucked the trend for falling sales, with demand down just 1%, to 27,848. Ford is close behind with 24,212 sales, a drop of 20% and the two manufacturers trade blows in the best-selling vehicle sector, with Ford Focus remaining best-selling fleet car so far in 2003, although demand is down 27% to 11,340, while Vauxhall Astra and Vauxhall Corsa take second and third place, followed by the Ford Mondeo in fourth and the Vauxhall Vectra in fifth.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Christopher Macgowan said: 'This is the second best February since the twice-yearly plate change was introduced, putting 2003 on a firm path to reach the 2.4 million registrations expected this year.'