Fleet saved U.S. sales from falling in November.
In a month when total volume rose 16,223 light vehicles, fleet sales for the major players increased 23,500. That 14 percent fleet jump swung a negative retail month into an overall 1.2 percent increase for the industry.
And four automakers -- Ford, Nissan, FCA US and Hyundai-Kia -- flipped retail losses into net positives with booming fleet growth. Toyota followed the same pattern with a 20 percent fleet surge in November, except its retail sales also rose 2.4 percent.
The exception? General Motors, which since midyear has trimmed the daily rental portion of its fleet sales to focus on more profitable business. In November, GM fleet sales dropped 8.5 percent while retail volume grew 4.4 percent.
GM plans "more significant reductions in rental deliveries in 2016" including fewer Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu sedans, GM spokesman Jim Cain wrote in an email.
The Detroit 3 have traditionally had the richest fleet mix of total sales because their large pickups and SUVs dominate the commercial and government segments of bulk buyers. But GM says prices fell as car demand slowed and other automakers started diverting more sedans to daily rental fleets.
For example, despite virtually no commercial or government activity, Hyundai-Kia's November fleet mix was 24 percent of total sales, compared with 20 percent for GM in all fleet segments.