Fleet declines cause GM, Ford July sales dips
Much lower fleet volume led to overall U.S. sales declines at General Motors and Ford Motor Co. in July.
GM's retail volume was down 3 percent, better than its overall 6 percent sales decline for the month. But GM fleet sales were down 15 percent compared with July 2011. At Ford, retail sales rose 2 percent, but a 16 percent drop in fleet sales brought overall July volume down 4 percent.
But most major competitors sold substantially more light vehicles to fleet operators last month than in July 2011. Chrysler Group, Nissan North America and Hyundai-Kia had double-digit increases.
The biggest gain on a percentage basis (162 percent) was at Toyota Motor Sales: 6,500 fleet sales in July compared with 2,500 the previous July. But that number -- reflecting short supply last year after the March 2011 Japan earthquake -- only increased the fleet mix to 4 percent of total group sales.
For the first seven months of 2012, Toyota Motor Sales' fleet mix was 12 percent. Senior Vice President Bob Carter has told dealers that fleet sales will end the year below 10 percent, as usual.
Among the seven top-selling automakers, combined fleet sales fell 2 percent in July, to 145,000 units.
Typically, sales to daily-rental, commercial and government fleet operators are heavier in the first half than the second. And July certainly showed a slower fleet pace.
July's fleet volume dropped to 15 percent of the sales mix, after running above 20 percent in the first half.
Most of the July slowdown in fleet sales was at the Detroit 3, where the fleet mix ranged from 18 to 27 percent for the month compared with 27 to 34 percent over the first seven months.
Toyota's fleet mix in July was a third of its first-half rate. Nissan dropped to 7 percent from a 17 percent mix for the year to date.
Because it doesn't have a central fleet department, American Honda's fleet volume is estimated at a flat 2 percent of sales.
You can reach Jesse Snyder at email@example.com.