For years, under Daimler’s rule, it seemed that Chrysler was surviving solely on its fleet sales. Now, Chrysler has the highest percentage of retail sales of the Big Three, according to numbers released by Automotive News.
While the domestic three continue to rely more on fleet sales than imports, Ford is relying on them far more than GM and Chrysler, 32% of Ford’s March sales were to fleets, compared with 27% at GM and 26% at Chrysler. In March 2012, one year ago, Ford still led in fleet sales (32% of their total); GM was about the same, with 26% of sales going to fleets, and Chrysler is in the middle, with 30%.
Fleet sales contain both lucrative deals and less valuable sales; the numbers contain profitable pickup sales, balancing government and rental fleets, along with corporate deals, police cars, ambulances, and others.
The import brand with the highest percentage of fleet sales is Nissan, which recently hired Ram chief Fred Diaz away from Chrysler, and which until recently bested Chrysler in total American sales; Nissan sells 22% of its cars to fleets. Toyota is next in terms of absolute numbers, but only 12% of their sales are for fleets, and Hyundai rounds out the majors, with 15% of sales (up from 10% last year). Honda has remained stable with just 2% of sales going to fleets.