Hyundai-Kia Automotive leaned heavily on fleet sales in 2013 to mitigate falling retail demand, even as most other major automakers trimmed their dependence on nonretail volume.
Hyundai-Kia boosted 2013 fleet volume 45 percent both in December and over the full year. That nearly offset its 6 percent drop in 2013 retail volume. The two South Korean auto brands combined for a full-year total U.S. sales decline of 4,644 units, but it wasn't even: Hyundai's sales rose 3 percent while Kia's fell 4 percent.
By contrast, General Motors, Chrysler Group and Toyota Motor Sales actually reduced the number of vehicles sold to commercial, governmental and daily rental fleet operators. The three also boosted retail sales substantially, with gains ranging from a high of 14 percent at Chrysler to 9 percent at Toyota.
Ford Motor Co. and Nissan North America both boosted 2013 retail volume more than twice as much as fleet sales. Ford's full-year retail sales jumped 13 percent, while fleet sales rose 5 percent. At Nissan, retail gained 10 percent; fleet, only 4 percent.
Because American Honda lets dealers handle all fleet sales, the Automotive News Data Center estimates fleet as a flat 2 percent of its total volume.
December is typically a slow fleet month and was even more so in 2013, with fleet volume off 1 percent to 181,200 light vehicles for the seven largest automakers.
That completed a modest fleet year, with the top seven posting a 2 percent increase in fleet sales to 2.4 million units. The group's retail volume gained 9 percent to just under 11 million units.
As a group, the fleet mix dropped a point to 18 percent of total sales, below the industry's typical 20 percent.
While the 2013 fleet mix fell for the Detroit 3, Toyota and Nissan, Hyundai-Kia increased fleet to 15 percent of its sales from 10 percent in 2012.