2012 fleet sales

Chrysler brands have been gaining popularity among “real people,” if retail sales are any indication. From nearly half of U.S. sales being attributed to fleets, Chrysler has come down to 36% in 2010, 28% in 2011, and 26% in 2012.

While not all fleet sales are “bad,” American automakers have sometimes relied on low-profit or profitless fleet sales to pump up sales figures. Excessive sales to some fleets, particularly rental companies, can also slam resale prices, making it leasing less attractive. Import automakers tend to have very low fleet sales in the US, though part of that may be because they do not sell “heavy duty” full-size pickups such as the Ram 2500 and 3500, which are primarily sold to commercial buyers.

Chrysler wrote that its market share of retail purchases rose to 10.2%, up from 9.4% in 2011, as its image rose among retail buyers. Chrysler 300 nearly doubled in retail sales, helped by praise from “consumer magazines,” and Fiat 500 more than doubled. Minivans, Grand Cherokee, and Chrysler 200 also saw steep retail gains. Overall, Chrysler’s U.S. sales went up 13% overall, but retail sales (total sales minus fleet sales) rose 23%. The company’s overall market share rose to 11.2% despite the full-force re-entry of Toyota and Honda into the market.

In Canada, where Chrysler has traditionally had a substantially higher market share, overall market share was 14.2%, slightly lower than in 2011; retail-only market share was estimated at 12.7%, down by 0.2 points, despite a 5% increase in retail sales.

While Chrysler’s average transaction prices were similar in 2012 and 2011, incentives rose somewhat in 2012. In 2011, incentives averaged $3,100 per car in three quarters ($2,900 in Q2); in 2012, incentives started at $3,100 in Quarter 1, but rose by $100 per quarter, each quarter, ending up at $3,400 in the fourth quarter. Chrysler attributed this to year-end sales events, most likely the need to push 2012 Ram 1500s out the door and make room for the 2013s, while dealing with high pickup incentives at GM and Ford.