• Mar 5th 2010 at 6:31PM
  • 41

Just about every automaker posted February sales gains compared to the same month in 2009, and industry-wide sales were up 13 percent for the month. Even Chrysler posted its first year over year gain for the first time in 25 months, albeit by a mere 399 units. So is everybody at the company's Auburn Hills, MI headquarters celebrating? We're guessing the answer is no... due to the fact that a knee-wobbling 58 percent of those sales came to fleet customers.

Automotive News is reporting that only 35,832 of those 84,449 sales were made to retail customers. That's not good, folks. In better times, Toyota would be disappointed if it only sold 35,000 Carmry sedans to retail customers. When AN asked Chrysler about its low sales for the month, a spokeswoman reportedly said, "Fleet sales were very strong this month, and our company sales reflect that." Big fleet sales will reportedly be temporary, though, as the company still eventually plans to allocate only 25 percent of its sales to fleets.

But while that's bad news for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers, the company is likely at least happy that fleet customers are buying again. When the economy hit the skids in the fall of 2008, the fleet market went from a sales oasis for domestic automakers to a discount desert. Chrysler isn't the only automaker to rely on fleet sales in February, either. General Motors allocated 45,000 of its 144,000 vehicles to fleets, about 31 percent of its total sales.

[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req'd]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago

      With few exceptions, Chrysler continues to have a product line no one wants. Look what sits on Chrysler lots. A bunch of look-alike models with poor fuel economy. With help on the way from Fiat, there is hope that the dismal failure of Chrysler management to offer vehicles which American want and need can be reversed.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Aren't they now a foreign car company? Buy American! :)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Chrysler's are not junk people,you obviously never drove one,most likely just saying crap about them because you need to pretend you are in agreeance with other bloggers..You cannot compare a low rent ,rental model that has been abused to a new one obviously if you know anything you would know rental cars are beat on,thus drive like crap !!

      Remember they have base models that have different suspensions than the mid level and top level.

      As for gas mileage a Hemi Charger averages 23 mpg,a 4 cyl Honda Accord and Toyota Camry average the same without the power ,good looks,smooth ride and handling of the Charger.

      Even journelists say the Sebring limited is a good car,good quality interior and 6 second range 0-60 with the 3.5 L V-6..yes it needs a redo,but its far from the ugliest car on the road (Yaris,Fit,Smart,Cube,Soul ,Element are some of the ugliest vehicles around)

      I hope Chrysler can get its models done promptly and we all know they can make good quality cars,its Dodge trucks the best around,minivans,Grand Cherokee,Viper are top notch as the Challenger / Charger and the 300 is the most awarded cars in history !!!

      One thing I cant understand is some imports have the same body style for years and nobody complains,but Chrysler has a model out for 4 years and people complain its so dated..what gives ? The Miata or whatever it is called now (mx ?),looks so out of date,the Beattle ? Stop drinking the import Kool-Aid kids,you may all have random steering/excelleration/braking problems,exploding air bags,bad transmissions courtesy of Toyota and Honda !!!

      • 5 Years Ago
      Chrysler does not have anything (and hasn't for many years) appealing to the general consumer. By selling to fleet customers in bulk is one of the reasons they have stayed afloat for the bast 15 years or so. However, I do feel as if Chrysler's fate is changing now that they were bought out by Fiat. With a whole slew of new cars coming out in the next couple of years to replace the "rental car line-up" they have now, I only see good things coming to it's brands. Truly the best thing to do is to clear ALL of their line-ups (except the Wrangler) and replace them with higher quality, new models that people actually want to buy. I am sure the new 300 and Grand Cherokee will be both great successes.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am not sure that the resale value can drop any lower than it already is, so fleet selling isnt going to hurt them but at the very least it might help float them until the become Fiat. Can't wait! I am looking forward to some of the products more than I have look forward to any in along time 500 and Punto Abarth editions YES's please! So long Sebring it wasnt a good ride.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Totally agreed. How can the brand equity or resale value of the Sebring possibly get any worse? Better to sell a ton to the fleet customers if they are willing to buy. This is life and death for Chrysler. They need to sell enough vehicles to keep the lights on and pay the bills until the Calvary from Italy arrives. Quite frankly brand equity and resale value on it's current lineup is the last thing on their minds since they intend to basically dump the entire lineup as soon as they can. It doesn't even matter if they make a profit as long as they come close to covering the cost of keeping the plants open. They have to common sense to realize retail customers are not suddenly going to fall in love with the Sebring but the Italians want to keep the plant. So do you pay all the overhead on the plant while it is sitting idle doing nothing or sell a bunch to fleets at a price that allows you to just barely cover the cost of the plant.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Right on the money Marknn. If any other company does it, it's a-ok. If Chrysler does it, it's time to bring out the battering ram. I'll still put Chrysler's vehicles up against anyone's. In any catagory.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Watch for falling resale values...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Though it may not be as high as Chrysler's overall percentage a sizable portion of Ford, GM and Hyundai's month-to-month sales is also to fleets.

      Not so much with Toyota, Honda, Subaru and other automakers. Although in Toyota's case that may change (along with the incentives they use on retail sales).

        • 5 Years Ago
        Typically Chrysler and Hyundai / Kia sell the larger which can get up to 35%-40% of cars to rental fleets with GM, Ford and Toyota the next largest fleet suppliers which would get up to ~ 25%-30%. Of the big 5 Honda is the lowest by far and one of the lowest of all MFGRs. Most of their fleet sales are from NGX Civics or Hybrids / Fuel Cells rather. Their retail sales % is normally the highest among all MFGRs across all models.

        But 60% sales to fleets is killer for Chrysler. It kills the brand and the model - b/c you have to overcome the image of its cars only good enough for bulk fleet purchases (meaning you have to load on the highest incentives - which Chryslers typically have), and 2-3 years down the road when they are offloaded in bulk to wholesale auctions the resale vale of the car is worthless at that point and will never recover. Fleet sales are good where you can alter sales per month to keep factories running at an efficient optimum (by their sale covering their variable costs and some of the fixed costs) - but when you rely on them for 12 mos out of the year you are in big danger.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You are forgetting Nissan, which not only increase fleet sales substantially in 2009, but also increased incentive spending, outspending Hyundai the latter part of 2009.

        Also, the gap btwn Hyundai and Toyota w/ regard to incentive spending has closed w/ Hyundai spending $1,866 per vehicle and Toyota spending $1,676 per vehicle in Dec. of 2009.

        Nissan was over $2,000 and Honda was spent around $1,300 per vehicle.

        Also w/ regard to fleet sales in Dec. of 2009, both Hyundai and GM managed to limit fleet sales to 22% of vehicles sold.
      • 5 Years Ago
      La venta a flotas es una buena politica de ventas, si el producto es bueno,por que tienen
      muchos usuarios la posibilidad de probarlos y si gusta tienes un posible comprador, pero si no es todo lo contrario.
      Lo que no entiendo es como una marca de tanta experiencia como chrysler,pueda cometer tantos desaciertos,pues cuando quiere lo hace muy bien,ejemplo,voyager
      crd, sobretodo desde 2001 en adelante el mejor monovolumen del mundo si del mundo,
      aunque mejorable porsupuesto sobretodo en algunos puntos mecanicos, pero en cuato a comfor y lineas la mejor,luego saben , ¿por que no siguen la politica con el resto?
      Todo no es fabricar 5.000.0000. o 10.000.000. de autos no es fabricar con sentido comun, vehiculos eficientes,comfortables,fiables,como los japoneses,y ahora los coreanos,ojo con los coreanos?....son como los japoneses ?... no dejemos que nos coman el terreno ,tanto a eeuu como a europa que en europa tambien nos estan comiendo mercado,que nos pase como al imperio romano,Sr marchionne le deseo lo mejor,por el bien todos,ADELANTE, no hay tiempo que perder, el tiempo es oro los asiaticos lo saben muy bien y asi les va?

        • 5 Years Ago
        Translation (via Google Translate):

        The sale is a good policy fleet sales, if the product is good, because they have
        many users the ability to test and if you like a prospective buyer, but if not the opposite.
        I do not understand is as a brand as much experience as chrysler, can make so many mistakes, because when you want to do well, such as voyager
        crd, especially from 2001 onwards the best minivan in the world if the world
        though improvable porsupuesto mechanics especially in places, but on how much to comfor and lines the better, then you know, why not follow the politics to the rest?
        Everything is not making 5.000.0000. or 10,000,000. car is not manufactured with common sense, efficient vehicles, comfortable, reliable, as the Japanese and Koreans now, watch out ?.... Koreans are like the Japanese? ... do not let us eat the field, both the U.S. and Europe that also Europe market we are eating, as we pass the Roman empire, Mr Marchionne I wish him well, for the sake of all, FORWARD, no time to lose , time is gold Asians know very well and so it goes?
      • 5 Years Ago
      There is a business quote out there that goes: "sales is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is reality". The guys at chrysler should keep this in mind, and stop focusing so much on sales #'s. Ford did the same thing years back when the camry started outselling the taurus. Ford wanted nothing more than to keep their title of best selling car. They reached out to fleet companies and sold tons to them, to bad these car manufacturers take hits when they sell to fleets. Ford soon saw the repercussions for their sales focus, yes they kept their title of best selling car, but they took huge hits profits and cash. Chrysler (and really all of the big 3) have got to be careful, they can't afford to screw up any more than they have.
      • 5 Years Ago

      The present crop of Chrysler is selling slow, gotta do something to feed all those employees. It will be different when the new faces make it to the lots.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh my, that is not good...
        • 5 Years Ago

        Its a way to dump all those obsolete Mercedes parts Chrysler is saddled with.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, and possibly no. What is the average monthly total for fleet sales over past 5 years? That would be a better indicator. If it's historically been 50,000 per month to Thrifty and Dollar, who typically have a heavy load of Chrysler cars, then it would be more 'normal'.

        In these months before same-models-with-new-interiors and all new models start arriving, you do what you have to do to survive the lean times (35k retail buyers).
        • 5 Years Ago

        Who's joking here?
        50k for CV? Are all police dept. want to renew all of their cruisers in the same month?
        • 5 Years Ago
        While Ford may have delivered 39.44% of their sales to fleets, they also saw retail sales rise 28%.

        GM committed 32% of their sales to fleets, and saw retail sales rise 7%.

        Chrysler had no retail sales. (just kidding)

        From where many of the sales went, I would say there were huge police department sales (Impala, CV, GM, Charger up), and huge government sales (Malibu, Focus), not to mention big taxi sales (Escape). For Chrysler, there was plenty of rental sales.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Believe it or not, fleet sales aren't all bad.

        Now, if the numbers given are comprised solely of rental fleets, that's not good. Institutional/commercial fleet sales generally have margins close retail (retail margins aren't as big as you think anymore). Also, rental accounts are required to buy higher content vehicles than in the past. This keeps resale values respectable for the most part.

        Also, you have to look at the models being sold in fleet sales. A lot of the time it's models that are long in the tooth or made only for fleets (Crown Vic/Gr Marq). If Ford can sell 50k of those models it a win for them. The platform is ancient and has been paid for a thousand times over. That's nothing but gravy.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Does anyone know where to find the numbers for Hyundai, Kia, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota?
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's what I'm thinking Kumar. February is like Christmas time for fleets. They are stocking up for the summer vacation season. If they didn't buy much last year then the vehicles are getting pretty old (for rentals).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually all the big gains you saw this month were largely due to huge increases in fleet sales. I don't know why Autoblog called out Chrysler and GM without mentioning that Ford's February sales were also heavy on fleet sales.
        In fact Ford had a higher percentage of their sales from fleet sales than GM did-40% of their February sales were to fleets. Chrysler is of course the worst offender of all but that's not really surprising since there's really no retail demand save for the Challenger.
        Just so nobody thinks I'm making it up just to hate on Ford: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703807904575097322529129104.html

        So those huge gains we saw on those charts are really just the Big 3 dumping their cars big-time into fleets.
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