DETROIT — Despite a brutal retail sales slump, the Detroit 3 continue to cut the number of light vehicles they sell to daily rental companies and corporate fleets.
Through the first four months of 2008, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC have reduced U.S. sales to fleet buyers, according to an analysis of data supplied by R.L. Polk & Co., an automotive data research firm in suburban Detroit.
Through April, Chrysler reduced fleet sales by about 45,000 units, or 17 percent, from a year earlier. GM cut fleet sales by nearly 40,000 units, or 14 percent. And Ford Motor's fleet sales fell 25,000 units, or 9 percent.
Automakers consider it important to limit such sales because heavy fleet sales can damage a brand's residual values. Fleet sales to corporate customers can be profitable, but sales to daily rental fleets typically are not.
In previous downturns, the Detroit 3 sometimes dumped unwanted vehicles into daily rental fleets, ruining resale values when Hertz, Avis and others sent their cars and trucks to auctions.