Chrysler Group reported a small sales increase in sales for February, but the automaker did it by relying heavily on fleet sales.
Chrysler sold 84,449 vehicles in February, up less than 1 percent from 84,050 units in February 2009. The increase comes after 25 straight months of sales declines.
But only 35,832 of those units were retail sales, according to numbers confirmed by Automotive News. That means 58 percent of Chrysler sales went to fleets.
Chrysler declined to comment on the retail numbers because the company does not break out fleet vs. retail in monthly sales reports.
A spokeswoman said: “Fleet sales were very strong this month, and our company sales reflect that.”
A number of large fleet operators, rental car companies and government agencies, who had postponed orders last year, returned to the market, she said.
“We still expect our total fleet sales for the year to be around 25 percent,” she added. “It’s a good viable business for us. It shows that large companies have faith in our company to order. We make money on fleet sales.”
Though Chrysler did post a slight gain, it trailed the industry, which was up 13 percent for February. Chrysler’s Detroit rivals showed bigger increases. Ford posted a 43 percent increase, while GM rose 12 percent. Both companies were able to profit from Toyota’s unintended acceleration problems. Toyota Motor sales fell 9 percent for the month.
Chrysler’s sales growth was based solely on a big increase in car sales. Chrysler car sales shot up 38 percent in February, while truck sales sank 10 percent.
Ram pickup sales fell 29 percent for the month, and Chrysler is moving to put up a better showing in March. Customers who buy a 2010 Ram 1500 can get a Hemi engine at no charge or a $500 rebate on a Ram 1500 with the 3.7-liter V-6 or 4.7-liter V-8.