DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. expects to sell more passenger cars into commercial fleets during the first quarter compared with last year as large corporations restock inventory.
That's a first because, typically, Ford's biggest sellers into commercial fleets are pickup trucks and vans.
One reason for the boost is the improving economy, which frees corporate purse strings to buy more fleet vehicles, says Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president of global marketing in an interview with Automotive News. Also, the strength of the residual values on the Fusion sedan is making it attractive to large corporations, Farley adds.
“We're seeing a whole new group of clients come to us saying we want to buy Fusions,” Farley says. “We've never had that before, at least in the recent past, and that has really grown our commercial fleet business.”
Ford's total fleet sales grew by 74 percent or 27,000 vehicles in December of last year versus December 2008, says George Pipas, Ford's chief sales analyst. Ford expects a similar increase in total fleet sales in the first quarter.
According to Kelley Blue Book, the 36-month residual value on the 2008 Fusion SE was 45 percent. That value rose to 47 percent on the 2010 model.
Ford sold 180,671 Fusions in the United States last year, up 22 percent from 2008 in an overall U.S. market that plunged 21 percent. In December, Fusion sales skyrocketed 84 percent to 18,852 cars.