Fleet sales rose almost as much as retail sales in April on a percentage basis, but fleet sales remained a drag on U.S. volume through the first four months of the year.
Among the major automakers that dominate U.S. fleet business, April sales to commercial, government and daily-rental buyers increased 6 percent from a year earlier. Retail sales gained 8 percent in April.
Through the first four months, sales by the big players are ahead 4 percent on the retail side but off 3 percent in fleet.
Even though fleet buyers are traditionally most active in the first quarter, fleet volume is about 25,000 units lower so far this year because daily rental companies strategically are keeping vehicles longer before reselling them.
But that hasn't disrupted the basic pattern of automaker strategies. The Detroit 3 and Toyota keep reducing their fleet dependence while Hyundai-Kia Automotive has been using fleet to offset weaker retail. Nissan North America is fueling its growth with both outlets.
American Honda dealers handle any fleet business, in contrast to other makers which handle fleet sales directly. Automotive News assumes American Honda volume is a flat 98 percent retail.
Hyundai-Kia boosted retail volume 6 percent in April, enough to cut four-month retail sales losses to 1,100 units. But its fleet sales jumped 17 percent in April and are 19 percent higher so far this year.
Through four months, Nissan sales are up 10 percent for fleet and 14 percent for retail.
So far this year, each of the Detroit 3 and Toyota have reduced fleet as a percentage of their sales mix. Toyota has the lowest fleet mix with 11 percent, down from 13 percent a year earlier.