DETROIT -- General Motors Co.’s 6 percent December sales decline looks a little better after remembering December 2008.
That month, about a third of GM’s sales were fleet deliveries. The automaker dumped about 75,000 of its 220,030 units into fleets in anticipation of extended holiday shutdowns at plants.
That’s too high a percentage, said Mike DiGiovanni, GM’s executive director of global market and industry analysis, today on a conference call.
“You want to be around 25 percent,” he said.
Last month, GM’s fleet sales came in a bit below that -- about 22 percent, he said. That represents a drop of about a third in December fleet deliveries. And sales to rental companies, businesses and government agencies were all profitable for GM, “which was not the case a few years ago,” he said.
GM’s fleet deliveries put the company in the middle of automakers’ December fleet percentages, according to estimates from Susan Docherty, GM’s sales and marketing chief. Ford Motor Co., which reported a 33 percent sales gain, sold 35 percent of its vehicles to fleets. About half of Chrysler Group’s sales went to fleets. Toyota Motor Sales had 10 percent and Hyundai-Kia 22 percent.
Not including the fleet drop, GM’s sales to individual customers rose 7 percent compared with December 2008.
For the year, GM sold 2.07 million cars and trucks in the United States -- a 30 percent decline from the 2.95 million vehicles sold in 2008.