DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is taking a much different approach to fleet sales than crosstown rival General Motors.
While GM plans to slash sales to daily rental companies by 75,000 units this year -- and has plans for more cuts in 2017 -- the Blue Oval has held steady.
"We don't see an adjustment necessary in the daily rental," Ford's president of the Americas, Joe Hinrichs, told Automotive News. "We think where we're at is pretty good and pretty balanced."
Through November, Ford's daily rental sales are at the same level they were a year ago: 11 percent of its total sales. Year to date, Ford's total fleet sales are up 2 percentage points to 30 percent of sales, thanks to increases on the commercial and government side.
"The rest of our fleet business is very healthy, and we're growing it; we don't see a reduction coming," Hinrichs said.
Ford's fleet sales, especially those to daily rental companies, were front-loaded in the first half of 2016 but began to drop significantly as summer turned to fall. Fleet sales tumbled 21 percent in September and also fell in October and November.
GM's yearlong quest to pare back in daily rental has led to a slight decline in its market share, but Alan Batey, GM's president of North America, told Automotive News last month that the automaker plans additional cuts next year.
"Rental business isn't bad business," Batey said in an interview. "But we don't need to do it to run plants anymore, and it puts pressure on resale values."
GM hopes relying less on fleet sales will pay dividends during the next economic downturn. Ford, meanwhile, took similar actions coming out of the recession under then-CEO Alan Mulally, cutting daily rental units from roughly 444,000 in 2006 to around 260,000 so far this year.
"What happened in the past, automakers had too much inventory and were dumping sales in fleet," said Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst with IHS Markit. "I don't think right now we're seeing the bad behavior of past decades emerging from either company. They seem to be holding discipline this year."
Ford says it's comfortable around its current fleet levels, although executives noted such sales aren't as profitable as selling to individual retail customers.
"Retail sales by their very nature tend to be [more profitable]," said Stephen Odell, Ford's executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service. "Clearly, we wouldn't participate if it didn't make financial sense for us."
Hinrichs wouldn't offer specifics but said fleet is still "very good business."
"It's all in balance, of course," he said. "The daily rental business is very different than it was 10 years ago when we had a lot more volume and more pronounced on one or two nameplates. Now, we're pretty balanced at a lot lower volume."
Much of Ford's fleet gains this year came from sales of vehicles such as Transit vans and F-series trucks to construction companies and other businesses.
Ford's commercial business was up 9.6 percent and represented 30 percent of the commercial market share through the first six months of the year, according to the most recent data by IHS Markit. Freightliner was second with 19 percent of the market.
"Ford has a long-standing tradition with Transit, and that's working for them right now," Brinley said. "Commercial sales do tend to be a little more profitable, and they can build long-term business relations."