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Fiat denies turning to daily rental market

Confidential industry figures suggest that Fiat was forced to return to daily rental deals in April as dealers struggled to sell cars in a tough market.

A total of 667 Fiats were registered on April 27, with the daily figures rising to 1,000 and then to more than 1,500 on the following days.

Peter Newton, spokesman for Fiat Auto UK, which says it has pulled out of unprofitable, volume-building fleet deals, denies there has been any change of policy. “We followed normal industry practice by doing some rental business in April to expose new models, such as the Grande Punto, to the market, but remained committed to building sales through our dealer network,” he says.

Manufacturers were expecting April to finish between 8% and 10% down year-on-year, partly because the month included Easter, which fell in March 2005. After four months, the year is likely to be running between 5% and 6% down by the time the SMMT publishes the final figures this week.

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