NEW YORK -- Nissan's presence in the U.S. daily rental fleet business is rising, and Nissan North America Chairman Jose Munoz says that's a good thing.
"It's part of the business," Munoz told Automotive News during a wide-ranging discussion at last week's New York auto show. "The dollars we get are relevant, so we're going to continue to be there, even if other companies don't want to."
Munoz made the defiant declaration partly in response to criticism from competitors about Nissan North America's overall market share growth. Detractors have commented -- usually in hushed tones -- that Nissan's climb to a 10 percent U.S. market share has relied on increased sales to rental fleets rather than organic demand from retail customers.
Yes, of course it includes fleet sales, he says. And no, there's nothing wrong with that.
"I guarantee you that every fleet sale we do in the United States is a profitable sale," he said, or the company wouldn't do it. "In many regions of the world, the best corporations are also the best in fleet. The important thing is do responsible fleet," he said.
Automakers face a difficult task in calibrating their fleet strategy. Heavy sales to daily rental agencies boost volumes up front, but the effects tend to surface a few years later in the form of bloated used-car inventories that can depress resale values and transaction prices. That dynamic has kept Honda largely out of the rental business and led industry watchers to be wary of fleet-driven sales gains.