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2006-13 FCA fleet sales: Numbers vs quality

by Bill Cawthon on

General Motors’ cutbacks in fleet sales made the news when they let Ford edge past the giant to take the top sales spot in March.

Both GM and FCA want to cut back on fleet sales, which are often less profitable than retail. Ford, which has the highest percentage of fleet sales in the US, enjoys mostly higher-margin commercial and government sales; but FCA and GM have more of the less desirable, low-margin daily rental fleet sales.

Breakouts of fleet sales are hard to get; and breakouts of fleet sales by market are even harder. FCA treats its fleet numbers like they were the recipe for Coca-Cola Classic.  Automotive News‘ Data Center provides monthly figures, but they are generally estimates, especially when it comes to FCA.

Automotive Fleet magazine, though, provided detailed fleet figures for the years 2006 to 2013. While they’re a bit out of date, they do give some insight into the quality of FCA’s fleet sales.

Chrysler-Total Fleet

The numbers are the fleet registrations divided by total registrations (not sales), and were compiled by R.L. Polk and its successor/owner IHS Automotive. IHS declined requests for more current data; it’s their business to sell it.

This second chart shows just rental fleet registrations:

Chrysler-Rental Fleet

Chrysler mid-size sedans were, as most people already know, rental-fleet fodder. Between 2006 and 2013, rental companies accounted for more than half of all Dodge Avengers registered. At the other end of the scale, Jeeps and Rams enjoyed higher retail deliveries.

Chrysler Rental Fleets as a Percentage of Total Registrations
Pass. Cars 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Chrysler 300 20% 31% 28% 22% 58% 19% 39% 23%
Chrysler Sebring/ 200 65% 47% 53% 33% 74% 36% 35% 42%
Dodge Charger 25% 39% 32% 28% 65% 37% 22% 31%
Dodge Stratus/ Avenger 70% 53% 44% 34% 63% 62% 56% 31%
Light Trucks 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Chrysler T&C 20% 22% 20% 15% 46% 30% 35% 38%
Dodge Caravan 32% 33% 36% 18% 36% 46% 45% 31%
Dodge Durango 30% 27% 39% 10% 30% 30% 10% 11%
Pickups 4% 3% 4% 6% 7% 10% 6% 7%
Jeep Compass 11% 11% 15% 9% 48% 23% 9% 19%
Jeep G.C. 19% 16% 14% 10% 27% 8% 6% 5%
Jeep Wrangler 4% 3% 3% 6% 4% 5% 3% 2%

FCA started bolstering minivan figures with increased deliveries to rental fleets toward the end of this period.

FCA has done a good job since then, though. In 2015, Automotive News estimated that about 78% of all 2015 deliveries went to retail customers, well above the 2013 numbers; and it seems that higher-quality fleet sales have increased. The addition of two Ram vans and  greater popularity of Ram pickups makes it likely that FCA’s commercial market share has been growing.

An FCA US spokesman wrote that FCA US had either the lowest fleet percentage of the major domestics, or was tied with one of them in each of the past four calendar years.

Detroit3-2006-2015

Part of that process has been pruning the product line — dropping the Dodge Avenger, for example.  The company has chosen to prune the Dart and 200 rather than have them run as rental fodder, as well. This may be good for resale values, since having thousands of rentals  depresses used-car prices. That would help make terms for company leases more attractive, too.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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