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Alarm bells as automakers hit fleet sales

by David Zatz on

Alarm bells may be ringing in the industry as major automakers turned to fleet sales in January, trying to combat retail sales drops.

General Motors stood out as the only Top Seven automaker to gain in retail sales, according to Automotive News. Their retail sales boost of 9% stood in contrasts to losses from 2% (Honda, FCA US) to 12% (Ford). Even the mighty Toyota lost 9% in retail.

fleet police car

At the same time, GM slashed its fleet sales by 23% from January 2015. In contrast, Ford and Nissan boosted fleets by 20%, Toyota by 31%, FCA by 38%, and Hyundai by a whopping 44%.

Not all fleet sales are bad, and Ford has the pick of the litter with its commercial vans and pickups doing well. FCA’s gain is hard to interpret, as some of it could be increased popularity of the Ram lines; but FCA’s percentage of fleet sales rose from 22% in January 2015 to 27% last month, the most of any automaker other than Ford (34%). Former fleet queen GM was the lowest domestic (20%) while Nissan was the highest import (24%), likely with the Versa taking on rental fleets.

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