DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. expects to boost sales to commercial fleets during the first quarter compared with last year as large corporations restock inventory.
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.
Also, the strength of the residual values on the Ford Fusion is making the sedan attractive to large corporations, he says. Typically, Ford's biggest sellers to commercial fleets are pickups and vans.
Unlike many sales to daily rental fleets, commercial-fleet sales to corporations tend to be profitable.
"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 vs. the same month in 2008, says George Pipas, Ford's chief sales analyst. The company 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. The value rose to 47 percent on the 2010 model.