August sales increase was built on retail
The 20 percent surge in light-vehicle sales in August was virtually all retail; most major players in the fleet sector were below year-earlier levels.
The seven largest automakers sold just 1 percent more fleet vehicles in August than they did the year before, but combined retail volume jumped 25 percent. The combined 173,400 fleet sales for the seven companies accounted for 16 percent of their sales in August, down from 19 percent a year ago.
In August, U.S. and Korean automakers shifted their focus more to retailing.
Ford Motor Co. and Hyundai-Kia Automotive reduced fleet volume, and Chrysler Group was flat. General Motors cut its fleet mix to 25 percent, from 26 percent a year earlier.
Toyota Motor Sales slashed fleet volume in August by 16 percent, while retail volume jumped 49 percent. Toyota has reversed its fleet trend from the first half of 2012, when it increased sales to fleet operators that had been shorted in 2011 during post-earthquake product shortages.
Nissan North America's fleet sales were up 19 percent in August, while retail volume gained just 7 percent. For the first eight months of 2012, Nissan's fleet sales were 32 percent higher, and retail increased 11 percent.
American Honda lets its dealers handle fleet volume independently. Automotive News consistently estimates the company's fleet sales as 2 percent of its total.
Through the first eight months of 2012, retail sales for the seven largest automakers were up 16 percent to 6.7 million units, while fleet rose 10 percent to 1.6 million.
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