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Fleet Sales Account For The Third Quarter Rise In U.S. Auto Sales

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On: Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 9:44AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Fleet Sales Account For The Third Quarter Rise In U.S. Auto Sales

Although the highest sales rates in over a year were posted last month for the U.S. auto industry, fleet sales accounted for more growth than retail sales, according to Automotive News.com. Fleet sales accounts for all of the vehicles purchased for commercial use, such as for car rental agencies, transportation, and/or government agency use (such as the sedans purchased for the local police force).

September numbers posted were higher than third quarter numbers last year, even considering that the cash for clunkers program was going on last year, which was initially very encouraging for the automotive industry. The bad news is that, according to analyst George Magliano, "Fleet is still the driver—it certainly isn't the consumer."  Magliano also stated, "Fleet has backed off a bit from the first half, but it's still strong. The retail side is still a bit weak." Of the total 2.3 million units sold by Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai, Kia, and Nissan combined retail sales reportedly fell 4% to 1.8 million, but fleet units went up by 24% to 461,786 units.

Every automaker in the U.S., other than General Motors, realized increased sales that were according to automotive news; “double- or triple-digit percentages.” GM actually realized a decrease in sales of 2% last quarter, but its fleet volume was 26% of the total sales volume.

Honda Motors, which does not offer fleet sales, was one of automakers seeing a drop in U.S. sales for the third quarter, and experts attribute that decline to the lack of fleet sales offered.

Chrysler posted a total fleet sales number of 34% for the third quarter, up from only 25% at this time last year, and Nissan tripled its third-quarter fleet volume to 14,076. Ford sold 26% more fleet vehicles in the third quarter, up from 23% last year.

Ford chief sales analyst George Pipas reports that he feels the auto market is doing better in general, but making a comparison to last years’ sales volume is difficult because of the Cash for Clunkers program. "It's positive that retail sales are off just a little from a period with an extremely popular incentive," Pipas said. He also commented, "Without clunkers a year ago, then the industry's third quarter [this year] would have been up for both fleet and retail."


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