• Jul 6th 2007 at 2:02PM
  • 54
Automakers often report their sales figures in whatever way makes them look most positive, and for a long time including fleet sales has been an effective way to make a slow selling vehicle look more popular with consumers on paper. Automakers don't distinguish between fleet and retail when reporting their sales, so we've been forced to believe them recently when we've been told that fleet sales are being reduced. General Motors, Ford and the Chrysler Group have all claimed that reducing fleet sales is a component of each company's respective turnaround plan, but we've found a document that suggests they're still way behind Toyota and Honda when it comes to resisting the easy route to higher sales.

These PDF documents from fleet-central.com, which we've converted to images and included below in a handy gallery, report in detail the percentage of sales sold to fleet operators in the first half of 2007. It's broken down by both vehicle segment and specific models, which allows us to pinpoint exactly which depend more on fleet sales than others.

Let's dive right in and pick out some of the more interesting numbers that you may be curious to know.

Subcompacts: (fleet) 149,766 | (retail) 825,697 | (total) 975,463 | (% fleet) 15.4%
Chevrolet Cobalt: 29,090 | 44,141 | 73,231 | 39.7%
Ford Focus: 19,660 | 54,621 | 74,281 | 26.5%
Toyota Corolla 22,999 | 121,348 | 144,347 | 15.9%
Honda Civic: 2,817 | 128,113 | 130,930 | 2.2%

Not surprising: While the Focus is older than the Cobalt, it enjoys a smaller percentage of fleet sales. The Corolla has a lot of fleet sales, but its retail sales are so large that its percentage of fleet sales is relatively small. The Civic's retail sales are higher than the Corolla's, however, which means that it is actually the real best-selling subcompact.

More segments after the jump! All the numbers can be viewed in the gallery below.

UPDATE: Fleet sales for trucks, minivans and SUVs added to the gallery.

[Source: fleet-central.com via AutoSpies]

Compacts: (fleet) 194,545 | (retail) 306,291 | (total) 500,836 | (% fleet) 38.8%
Chevrolet Malibu: 37,792 | 26,435 | 64,227 | 58.8%
Chrysler Sebring: 25,916 | 14,866 | 40,782 | 63.5%
Dodge Avenger: 10,013 | 2,591 | 12,604 | 79.4%
Dodge Caliber: 23,248 | 28,288 | 51,536 | 45.1%
Ford Fusion: 17,905 | 48,838 | 66,743 | 26.8%

VERDICT: Very surprising: According to these numbers, both the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger are supported largely by fleet sales. The Avenger's retail sales are ridiculously low compared to its fleet sales. The Malibu is about to be replaced by an all-new model, so its high percentage of fleet sales is understandable. The Fusion, meanwhile, enjoys a reasonably low percentage of fleet sales, though it needs to be lower.

Intermediates: (fleet) 309,829 | (retail) 809,332 | (total) 1,119,161 | (% fleet) 27.7%
Buick LaCrosse: 7,199 | 17,475 | 24,674 | 29.2%
Buick Lucerne: 5,111 | 34,012 | 39,123 | 13.1%
Chrysler 300: 29,078 | 36,993 | 66,071 | 44.0%
Ford Five Hundred: 13,885 | 18,337 | 32,222 | 43.1%
Honda Accord: 7,995 | 155,556 | 163,551 | 4.9%
Toyota Avalon: 6,304 | 34,804 | 41,108 | 15.3%
Toyota Camry: 14,762 | 177,431 | 192,193 | 7.7%

VERDICT: Japanese automakers have the upper hand. The Lucerne does well for Buick compared to its smaller sibling, the Lacrosse, which sells less total yet more to fleets. In fact, the Lucerne has almost as many retail sales as the Chrysler 300, which is surprising. The Five-Hundred is headed down the path of the original Taurus with a high percentage of sales to fleets. Here's hoping the new Taurus will buck that trend. The sales numbers of the Camry and Accord stand out here as exceptional, with single-digit percentages of sales to fleets. The Avalon, perhaps Toyota's most likely model to have high fleet sales, had a lower percentage than expected.

Full-Size Cars: (fleet) 37,771 | (retail) 14,811 | (total) 52,582 | (% fleet) 71.8%
Ford Crown Victoria: 25,705 | 2,459 | 28,164 | 91.3%
Mercury Grand Marquis: 12,060 | 12,044 | 24,104 | 50.0%

VERDICT: Predictable: Nearly all of the Crown Victoria's sales are to government agencies like police forces. The Grand Marquis, however, still has a loyal following of retail customers.

Entry-Luxury Cars: (fleet) 21,080 | (retail) 315,824 | (total) 336,904 | (% fleet) 6.3%
Volvo S40: 4,222 | 7,038 | 11,260 | 37.5%
Mercedes-Benz C-Class: 3,312 | 18,829 | 22,141 | 15.0%
BMW 328: 1,047 | 34,670 | 35,717 | 2.9%
Audi A4: 1,632 | 22,628 | 24,260 | 6.7%
Infiniti G35: 3,161 | 29,959 | 33,120 | 9.5%

VERDICT: The Entry-Luxury segment as a whole has a very low percentage of sales to fleet. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, however, sells more to fleets than its competitors, despite having the lowest total number of sales.


Lincoln Town Car: 12,235 | 8,687 | 20,922 | 58.5%
Cadillac DTS: 6,462 | 17,128 | 23,590 | 27.4%
Infiniti M35: 1,602 | 8,850 | 10,452 | 15.3%
Cadillac CTS: 2,017 | 20,343 | 22,360 | 9.0%
Lincoln MKZ: 783 | 12,661 | 13,444 | 5.8%
Ford Mustang: 18,541 | 45,350 | 63,891 | 29.0%
Chrysler Crossfire: 1,825 | 760 | 2,585 | 70.6%
Chevrolet Corvette: 440 | 15,825 | 16,265 | 2.7%

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well kids hate to tell you, while you're down on fleet, which is a legitmate sale, it adds to a makers numbers, keeps folks employed and believe it or not actually makes some money for a maker. Sales=business=exposure= money= and some profit flows to the bottom line, what happens after that is a mangement call. hmmm must be an alien concept these days.

      Oh and stop whining about what you get at trade, if you got a heavy rebate at sale time, you got your trade money up front.
        • 8 Years Ago
        It's a strange world where we get people on a blog complaining that car makers aren't making enough profit. Wow! Then they slide in what a good deal they got when buying their car.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I can't see the big deal in selling cars by volume and putting them where the public will see them. Same with rentals. I rented an Impala once and really liked the car. Had I been in the market for a car prior, I would not have thought about an Impala. If I do plan on buying another car, the Impala will be on top of the list. I am a Toyota fan but see none for rent. Test drives give limited time to get an impression.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Avenger and Sebring are mistakes. Dialmer tried to build a FWD Asian knock off. They should have been RWD midsize versions of the Charger and 300.
      • 8 Years Ago
      A couple of things stood out.

      The Chrysler 300 has a slightly higher percentage of fleet sales than the Ford Five Hundred, but it's the Ford that gets called out for retail sales being too low. That's just someone's bias showing.

      I think it was when the Sebring was first unveiled a year and a half ago that I predicted here that if Chrysler could build enough it would replace the Taurus as the mid-size of choice at the nation's airport rental counters, and it seems I was right.

      And, what's up with these size categories? The "sub-compact" category is mostly compacts, the "compact" category is mostly intermediates, and the "intermediate" category is mostly large cars, except for the Accord and Camry, which properly ought to be grouped with the other intermediates.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Fusion's gains this year have been exclusively retail. Even in April this year when sales were flat for the Fusion, its retail sales were up. Check your facts before making assumptions.

      Also, brand new cars (1-3 months) often get put in rental lots at higher rates than new cars that are four-six months into production. One reason is to boost initial sales and another is to shake out your products under some of the hardest driving they'll experience. The Camry's rental numbers in its early cycle last year were really high for Toyota (I think I read 15% somewhere), but that tapered off as the car rolled out and gained momentum.

      This same report had the Edge going 25% or so to rental fleets, but the total sales for the Edge at the time was like 20,000. Now, the Edge's fleet sales are tiny and the total fleet ratio (including good fleet sales) is around 10%.
      • 8 Years Ago
      In retail sales, the Corvette had higher numbers than the Sebring... Now that's saying something...
        JOE CAPRIO
        • 8 Years Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Sorry about the annoying, double post above. Clicking to add comment didn't seem to work the first time;-).
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think the most damaging fleet sales are to rentals, since these cars are usually stripped-down, and get sold within months, thus savaging resale values. In this instance, it seems that Toyota is selling very close if not more units to rentals than Ford is. Honda's commendably low, but even they sold tons of Accords to rentals.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Then you need to change rental companies..... Just got back after a week with an Edge rental from Hertz. Definitely NOT Stripped down - leather, dual auto A/C, power everything, moonroof, 6 disc CD, etc. Pretty much what I would have bought in the car (only thing I would have added was Nav)...

        And the wife and I were so impressed with the car that when she's up for a new one it will be near the top of the list of cars to check out....
      • 8 Years Ago
      wow, is it prudent to report old data as the first half of 2007?

      Talking about reductions in fleet for 07 as talked about by manufacturers... and weighing the data before they made such statements..

      I would have hoped for a littel clearer picture in the article.
        • 8 Years Ago
        That's the fiscal year, not calendar year. that's the way business operates. 1st quarter of Fiscal Year 2007 is Oct 06 to Dec 06.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Talk to contractors and see what drives their purchases. If a truck is down, it's not making us money. Cheaper is not neccessarily more cost-effective. I'm sure there are instances of companies who buy purely on price, like government RFQ's, but smart companies base their purchases on overall value- initial cost, operational cost and durability. There's a reason behind the vehicles purchased for our company.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The brand new Sebring and Avenger sell 73% of the production to Fleets!? OMG

      More Corvettes go to fleets than Honda Civics!? OMG
        • 8 Years Ago
        It beats Civic by percentage of vehicles not raw numbers. look again.
        • 8 Years Ago
        "More Corvettes go to fleets than Honda Civics!? OMG"

        How do you figure?
        Civics to fleet: 2,817
        Corvettes to fleet: 440

        More than six times as many Civics go to fleet than Corvettes.
        • 8 Years Ago
        the only people driving hondas are morons and cheap skates
        • 8 Years Ago
        Now, WhoTF wants to rent a Civic when on vacation? Corvettes and 'Stangs are highly sought out by renters in Cali & Florida. The Sebring conv. should also do well as a rental in the warmer climates.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What's wrong with fleet sales necessarily? If you can offer a better price/value to a customer, then a sale's a sale. Why don't fleets buy camry's/civic's? (are they not competitively priced?)
        • 8 Years Ago
        Point taken, but I don't understand why toyota/honda can't build some extra camry/civics/etc and competitively price those extra ones to sell to fleets and thus beat the 2.5 at their own free market game of competitive pricing. Even if each car made less profit per car, it would work as getting even more product exposure and really be a slap in the face to the 2.5 in regards to sales numbers. I honestly don't believe that honda or toyota are "too good" to offer at least somewhat competitive pricing, especially if it means a long term gain.
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