Toyota fleet flurry will abate
Toyota went to the whip on fleet sales in May for a fifth straight month but says it will concentrate more on retail volume in June.
Fleet sales more than tripled to 26,400 units as Toyota Motor Sales continued to fulfill commitments to fleet customers cut off last year after the Japan earthquake shrank vehicle supplies.
In the first five months of 2012, fleet sales accounted for 15 percent of the group's U.S. sales mix, roughly double the normal rate. But Toyota Division boss Bob Carter has said that by May, the make-good orders would be over and fleet mix would run at 8 percent or less for the rest of the year to avoid harming brand resale values.
Though Carter didn't address the fleet issue directly while discussing May sales results, he alluded to the importance of resale values when announcing a marketing blitz supported by leasing and financing incentives.
"Strong residuals allow us to offer great lease rates," he said. "And those will be available on Camry, Corolla and virtually every model in our lineup."
Most other major automakers focused on retail in May.
Chrysler Group increased retail volume 39 percent and fleet volume by 10 percent. General Motors' fleet sales gained 3 percent, but retail sales rose 15 percent.
Nissan North America cut fleet sales 15 percent in May, but retail sales jumped 27 percent. Fleet sales at Hyundai-Kia Automotive were down 11 percent, while retail sales rose 13 percent.
Ford Motor Co. was more balanced, with retail sales up 12 percent and fleet sales up 13 percent.
American Honda doesn't break down fleet sales. But most competitors estimate Honda's fleet volume at 2 percent of total sales.
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