Fleet operators — rental car agencies, commercial businesses and governments — have purchased more than a million vehicles from automakers this year, and they would like to purchase many, many, many more if they could.
Like mother birds staring down at nests full of hungry chicks, automakers are facing tough decisions about which mouths to feed as they continue to struggle to manufacture vehicles — franchised dealers with empty lots or fleet operators willing to pay more than ever to keep their businesses moving. And each of those hungry mouths are motivated to do whatever it takes to stay fed.
"Today, the fleet customers are saying I'll take anything within reason on four wheels," Bob Carter, head of sales for Toyota Motor North America, told Automotive News last month. "Those discussions are just starting to open up, but clearly we're not in a position to make further commitments until we have further input into our supply chain outlook."