Fleet cutbacks crimp 4 companies' Sept. sales
Fleet volume that was flat or lower than year-ago levels cut into the sales results for four major automakers in September. Two companies reported overall declines for the month despite increasing sales to retail customers.
Nissan North America boosted retail volume 2 percent, but a 20 percent cut in fleet sales left it with a 1 percent overall decline. Ford Motor increased retail sales by 2 percent, but with a 5 percent fleet reduction it finished down 406 units overall.
Overall, major automakers' fleet volume rose 1 percent in September to 168,200 units while their retail sales jumped 15 percent to 848,200.
Chrysler Group gained 16 percent in retail sales, outpacing the overall industry gain of 13 percent. But with fleet volume that was flat, Chrysler's overall gain fell to 12 percent. General Motors was up 3 percent on the retail side, but a 2 percent fleet decline left GM with a 2 percent gain for the month.
Kurt McNeil, GM's U.S. sales boss, said lower fleet sales were responsible for September declines in large pickup sales. The Chevrolet Silverado was down 17 percent, and the GMC Sierra was off 2 percent last month, even though GM started its Truck Month promotion in September, a month earlier than normal.
"It's just a one-month thing because rental [fleet] customers bought pickups a little earlier," he said.
Capacity-constrained Hyundai-Kia Automotive has favored dealers this year, but in September it boosted fleet volume 70 percent to 12,400 units. For the year-to-date, Hyundai-Kia's fleet share has fallen to 9 percent of the sales mix compared with 11 percent a year earlier.
Toyota Motor Sales increased fleet volume 36 percent, which was below its 42 percent retail bounce.
Automotive News estimates the fleet mix at a flat 2 percent for American Honda, which lets dealers handle any fleet business.
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