Fleet sales continued to shrink for six of the seven largest automakers last month with Nissan the only manufacturer to report a gain in its May fleet mix.
The seven largest automakers saw their fleet sales drop 13 percent, to 203,000 vehicles, while they sold 707,900 retail units -- a 3 percent reduction from 2010. The aggregate fleet share for the top seven was 22 percent in May -- matching April for the highest percentage this year.
Nissan North America's fleet share rose 62 percent in May from year-ago levels. Nissan sold 15 percent, or 11,200 vehicles, to fleet buyers.
Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends at TrueCar.com, said the rise in Nissan's fleet sales was due to relatively high inventory in May compared with Japanese rivals.
On May 1, Nissan had a 66-day supply of vehicles, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Industrywide, there was a 54-day supply on May 1. Toyota had a 44-day supply, and Honda had 36.
General Motors reported the highest fleet mix by volume last month with 70,100 vehicles, or 32 percent of sales. Ford Motor Co.'s 66,000 fleet sales accounted for 34 percent of all vehicles it sold in May -- the largest percentage in the industry.
Still, Ford's fleet mix was down 8 percent from last year, a change George Pipas, chief sales analyst at Ford, said was due to a lower daily rental mix.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. saw its fleet sales slashed from 16,000 in May 2010 to 8,200 last month.
To date, overall fleet sales have been steady through the first five months of 2011, up 1 percent from 2010, but Toprak said the automakers have little motivation to sell fleet vehicles because of low stocks as a result of parts shortages from Japan.
Toprak expects the percentage of fleet sales to taper off to the "low 20s to high teens" by year end. c
Jamie LaReau contributed to this report