• Aug 10, 2010
Before General Motors and Chrysler entered bankruptcy, the predominant fear was customers wouldn't purchase vehicles from a bankrupt automaker. Those fears turned out to be more or less unfounded, as the market share of the fallen two didn't fluctuate all that much during court proceedings, and both companies have seen sales increases the following year. Automotive News reports that while GM's sales are up 13 percent and Chrysler up 11 percent, the majority of those increases have come courtesy of fleet sales.

The General's fleet sales are reportedly up 53 percent to 400,000 units while Chrysler is up 40 percent to 242,000. GM does point out that its retail sales are up by one percent after the automaker cut four brands from its portfolio, while Chrysler isn't breaking down sales.

GM and Chrysler aren't the only automakers padding sales figures with fleets. So far in 2010, 35 percent of Ford's sales come from bulk buyers, more than the 31 percent at GM, but still less than the 39 percent at Chrysler. But to Ford's credit less, than half of those sales come from rental outfits, where discounts are deeper than they are with government and commercial fleets. Both GM and Chrysler are reportedly pushing two-thirds of its fleet vehicles to rental companies. The only other automakers to top 10 percent in fleet sales are Hyundai (16 percent) and Nissan (15 percent).

So do all these fleet sales spell trouble for GM and Chrysler? Not likely. Retail sales have remained relatively flat over the last year while fleet sales are up across most automakers. Detroit automakers also see higher fleet sales because each produces a large amount of heavy duty trucks and vans, while the overseas competition doesn't compete in those segments. All three Detroit automakers foresee a drop in fleet sales for the rest of 2010, with Chrysler and GM projecting about 25 percent of its sales going to fleets for the year while Ford is shooting for 30 percent.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req. | Image: Chris Hondros/Getty Images]


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  • 58 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      If the implication is that they are going to rental fleets, how come the rental cars are still so old and high mileage?
      • 4 Years Ago
      A sale is a sale to me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The more cars on the road, the more visible you are as a company hence people see that you're still around and kicking. With the models being long in the tooth, Chrysler is doing what they can to make sure their workers and plants are operating.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Exactly how Chrysler sees it!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Your headline is deceiving, and Government fleet sales "are" deeply discounted. They are usually well cared for but so are most of the rental fleets. One of my neighbors never buys anything but rentals and to my knowledge has never bought a bad one. He swears by them and laughs at the rest of us for paying full price.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thing is about govenment fleet sales, most of them don't end up back in the population as quickly as rental cars, therefore, they don't hurt residual values as much.

        Profit is profit, the only reason no one wants fleet sales is because of hurt resale values.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is not a surprise to anyone. These is why the government had to fabricate "issues" to go after Toyota in an attempt to tarnish their reputation. They failed though as Toyota still has sold the most cars at retail level. So when it comes time for people to spend their hard earned money they prefer Toyotas to anything else, go figure.....
        • 4 Years Ago
        hey ft speaking of Republicans, since your so worry about what president Obama is doing, why don't you write John Boehner and ask him why he play golf paying 20,000 at one place on our tax money and 27,000 at an anther golf club on our tax money, this man is crazy like most of his fellow lying GOP looses . Hey ask him how we can pay for these taxe cut's for the rich, oh that right by cutting Medicare, cutting unemployment benefits, and truct me your taxes will go up , lets not forget the best way to pay for a tax cit for the rich, cutting back on teachers and such, after all we don't need our kids to learn do we. god fools like you who believe into the GOP lies are the ones who worry me the most ,votes from total tools like you are a death nail in the usa . Your right it's not george buses fault, it the fault of voters like you who voted for these people
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't prefer Toyota and since Toyota only has a ~15% market share of the US overall - so do 85% of Americans.

        How do you explain Toyota's 8% fleet sales numbers? We all know a large majority of them go to rental fleets too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think your tin-foil hat is a little too tight.
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL, You keep telling yourself that FT , just keep telling yourself that.. For real if the government wanted to ruin Toyota to help the big 3 ,don't you think they would go after Hyundai/KIA , Nissan , VW , Honda and so on as well. The only reason Toyota's sales have fallen is a simple reason, lack of any good product or safe product.

        denial by Toyota or it's last few remaining fans will not get Toyota back to it's former glory with more lies and fairy tales and rants of government conspiracies against Toyota
        • 4 Years Ago
        Toyota currently appeals strongly to older drivers in the US. (Have you seen anyone under 60 in an Avalon?) If thats the market you hold onto, then you'd better expect claims of unexpected acceleration... or general cases where "I don't know what happened! It must have been the car!".

        Ok, now Toyota... bring us a new Supra and get your average age numbers back under the interstate speed limit!
      • 4 Years Ago
      So I've always wondered if having a big rental fleet with your car is a good thing. On the one hand it keeps up production and should reduce the overall cost to manufacture. On the other hand your car could get labeled as a rental car, and given how I drive rentals that's not a good perception.

      If I'm not mistaken, almost every manf has cars in rental fleets but I'd love to see the breakdown.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Go figure. This doesn't seem surprising.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't like how this article makes it seem like increases fleet sales are the only reason gm is seeing a sales increase. GM has gained an entire point of retail market share this year, and that is nothing to sneeze at! Additionally, it seems like everyone is praising Hyundai left and right, but they're doing the same thing... They have doubled their fleet sales percentage since last year.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wouldn't buy anything from government motors until they pay back all their loans. The CTSV is pretty awesome though!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Who in their right mind would actually buy a Chrysler or GM product?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Im with Gruv. GM should of gone down, just like any other business would of if they stopped producing a competitve product and failed as badly as Gm did. I wont ever buy a GM product, even after they get back in the black. GM will always be government motors.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Gruv = tool
        • 4 Years Ago
        It isn't surprising, because this is America. American auto makers *should* lead in fleet sales in the US. You wouldn't expect to be able rent an Impala in Tokyo, would you? You don't think the cops drive Chargers in Osaka, right? I'm going to go out on a limb and say Japan's Big 3 dominate in fleet sales in Japan and American car makers aren't anywhere on the list.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "I wouldn't buy anything from government motors until they pay back all their loans."

        How the @#$!% do you expect them to pay back loans if you're boycotting them. Talk about a logic hole...
        • 4 Years Ago
        it Herz me to say it, but Ford must have 30% + fleet sales too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        People buying a GM product is not all that surprising. There are some very attractive vehicles on offer like the Regal & Enclave from Buick; the CTS in all its versions; the Malibu and Camaro are holding their own even as the Malibu is getting a little old for the market segment not to mention the strong following the GMC and Chevy trucks have.

        Chrysler on the other hand, not so much a surprise. FIAT's American brands have very little on offer and it is going to be quite some time before they have a top to bottom line-up of desirable, quality vehicles.
      • 4 Years Ago
      No mention of Ford in the title? That seems extremely selective. Their overall percentage of fleet sales is higher than GM's this year at 35% versus GM at 31%.

      Hyundai is also 4th behind the Big Three, no surprise if you've been to any rental lot which are full of Hyundai products.

      Someone mentioned Toyota, they are only at 9%, nowhere near American automakers despite being raked over the coals by our government this past year.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/detroit-dominates-year-to-date-fleet-sales/
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's *hugely* selective to give Ford a pass here.

        * Ford sold 35% fleet.
        * GM is only 31% fleet.

        So, therefore, Ford is more dependent upon fleet than GM.

        One could say:

        "Ford nearly as dependent upon fleet sales as Chrysler"

        • 4 Years Ago
        Not to mention that Ford is projecting to sell more vehicles to fleet than GM or Chrysler, based on the 2010 projections mentioned at the end of the article.

        They are all 3 going to have to drop fleet sales considerably though if they plan to meet those goals by year end based on where they stand now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You write what I wrote and I get slammed. People need to take their aggressions out elsewhere.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, to be fair, GM and Chrysler had apparently sold much less to fleets pre-bankruptcy because the story mentions that much of their increase in sales has come from fleet sales. So, form that standpoint, it's not inaccurate.

        Ford apparently, had been fairly level at 35% fleet sales if the story is logical, but unfortunately, Ford's info is not fully given. The story mentions that GM's fleet sales are up 53% while Chrysler's are up 40%, but again, no mention of how Ford's fleet sales have been affected in the year or so since the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler. Without that info, it's hard to compare Ford with GM and Chrysler.

        My guess is that Ford has had increases as well, but since they couldn't attach them to a bankruptcy like for GM and Chrysler, the data was omitted since this made a better story.

      • 4 Years Ago
      From a consumer stand point what bothers me the most about fleet sales to rental companies is that they purchase the stripped down models. As a potential customer if I wind up in a base model Malibu I'm going to think it sucks, as with pretty much every base model out there. Car companies should push the rental buyers into at least mid-level models, if not top. This will create a more positive perception of potential buyers that experience the vehicles through rentals, especially when they may have never given the manufacturer the time of day to begin with.

      Rental fleet sales really don't do the manufacturers any favors except pad sales figures for vehicles that did not need to be made in the first place. Bottom of the barrel rentals give a poor brand perception to renters, and quickly dilute the used car market with an inferior product reducing resale value and further harming brand perception. Add to the situation that rentals are typically driven quite hard and are likely to suffer in reliability once they hit the used car market and further lessen brand perception.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @scappy: when you go for a rental you won't pay a premium price for a leather-lined Cobalt. I don't care how soft the leather is, it's still a Cobalt.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Automobile quality has lots more to do with resale value(perception is everything) than fleet sales. When you see an automobile on the highway do you say "oh look there's a nice looking Chevy Malibu" or do you say, "oh my gawd here comes a dang rental, duck children, don't look, wouldn't want you blinded by that nasty thing". Rentals enable some to have a good, recent model car, they otherwise could not afford.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm shocked, SHOCKED, to hear this.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wonder how many [-]'s I got before someone finished reading my post.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Really Alex? It doesn't come as a surprise to me, we all know how much the "Big 3" depended on fleet sales, even to the detriment of consumer sales.

        -Literal Rocketboy
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Chrysler's fleet sales, 39%, are the higher compared to all vehicles sales, but the negative thing is that Chrysler is also the company that has grown less the overall sales, +10.8% YTD, vs the +24.1% Ford (with 35% of fleet sales) and +31% GM core (with 31% fleet of sales). Anyway good luck to all the Big 3.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Captain Obvious says: "The working title for this report was "Duh"."
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