Toyota can attribute much of its uptick in sales last month to fleets. While the automaker saw its sales leap by 7.5 percent compared to a year earlier, Newsday.com reports Toyota sold 47 percent more cars and trucks to fleet customers in the U.S. than in January 2011. Without the fleet sales, the improvement would have been less than one percent. All told, rental companies accounted for 93 percent of the automaker's fleet sales in January, with the remainder going to other organizations.

Toyota and other Japanese automakers have always been reticent to embrace fleet sales. Doing so is not only generally less profitable than individual consumer sales, but can also lead to degraded brand image and resale value. Last month, Ford was cited for having 45 percent of the company's Focus going toward fleets.

Toyota, meanwhile, says the news isn't the start of a trend. When Toyota factories were hobbled by earthquake and tsunami activity in Japan last year, the automaker put a stop to fleet sales altogether to keep its dealerships fed. According to Bob Carter, Toyota U.S. sales chief, the company promised to make up deliveries to its fleet customers, and January represents the automaker fulfilling that promise. Carter also said that while fleet sales will be high once again in February, things should return to normal once again in March.


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  • 23 Comments
      brgtlm
      • 2 Years Ago
      I see a lot of Nissan and Toyota vehicles in rental car fleets as well as Mazdas. Hondas and Subarus very less so. No doubt that the Versa will soon be the new Aveo in the rental car fleets. One of the cars you don't want to see in your space.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
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        @brgtlm
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          jtav2002
          • 2 Years Ago
          First, 1 mpg is pointless to argue over. Secondly he's specifically talking about interior. Last time I checked the 2 weren't related. Don't you ever get tired of sounding stupid on here? Or have you actually convinced yourself that you provide intelligent posts?
          • 2 Years Ago
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          tylermars.design
          • 2 Years Ago
          let me remind you that all he mentioned was the interior.
          Oli123
          • 2 Years Ago
          Oh my gosh, a whole mile per gallon more? That is unbelievable, truly a deciding factor when I want to buy a new car.
          SloopJohnB
          • 2 Years Ago
          OOOH...4% better mileage on the EPA misrating scale is reason to remind one? For all practical purposes the mileage is the same. And the Hyundai has a better/longer warranty.
          Titansfan1967
          • 2 Years Ago
          He is drinking Toyota Camry kook-aid first Camry are made cheaply to this day do not use direct injection so I can't see how the fuel economy can be better. Second of all hit the top of the roof sounds like a tin can. Third still using first generations air bags open the door please do not lean on the door may cause death check it out when you visit Toyota dealership.
      caddy-v
      • 2 Years Ago
      GM, Chrysler and Ford sells to fleets and all we hear is negative comments. Toyota does it and now all of a sudden it's the right thing to do. What's up with that crap?
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      A sale is a sale.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Avinash Machado
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          jtav2002
          • 2 Years Ago
          Yea if you've ever owned a vehicle that has high fleet sales they definitely tank in value in just a couple years. I once had a car with a high percentage of fleet sales, car snickered for $31k and in 2 years was only work just under $16k. Ridiculous.
        rmkensington
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Avinash Machado
        Your right. I think fleet sales in the past were generally crappy cars. While im not a huge fan of Toyota, their cars are generally decent.
      SloopJohnB
      • 2 Years Ago
      I disagree with fleet sales being bad...although I've never owned a Lincoln Navigator it was one of the best 4X4 rentals in ski country one year; I liked it better than the 4X4 Suburban although the Suburban was clearly larger. On the other hand, if the rental had had an Escalade EXT I would have liked that better than the Suburban. The Navigator had more than enough power for the mountain Interstates to Vail and Aspen, the Suburban was great from SLC to Jackson Hole...running at 100mph in 4X4 high.... The real issue is the option level of the fleet cars....high end options cost so much and return so little at resale that most fleets won't get them. But those option levels are what the car company, Toyota, needs to get out there so people that rent the vehicles can see them and like them and perhaps buy new or resale from the rental company.
      kcroc10077
      • 2 Years Ago
      More importantly is the type of fleet sales. Selling to a government agency or a corporation for use by their employees is different and IMO less potentially damaging than selling to rental car agencies. I don't have any hard numbers to back that so if anyone does please chime in.
        fefifofum
        • 2 Years Ago
        @kcroc10077
        Selling to rental car agencies can arguably be of benefit though, people who would otherwise never step foot in your car now get one for a week or so. If your product is good, then it's a good thing, if your product is bad well it's terrible.
          Wyrmdog
          • 2 Years Ago
          @fefifofum
          Yep, renting a Sentra not long ago soured me on ever considering one. Granted, it was the lowest trim with virtually no options, but I can't get past the experience to consider one.
      Taggart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Actually, Toyota had some healthy sales increases in cars that probably aren't destined for fleets, like the Lexus ES, CT, Toyota Avalon, Camry Hybrid, and Scion tC and xD. Not sure about the Tacoma, whose sales went up 24%--these could be for work fleets, but the article above says that most fleet sales went to rental companies. Pickups aren't traditional rental cars, so it's safe to say most of the Tacomas sold were to individuals. All told, Toyota should probably get a lift from its showing in the recent JD Power study, in which it got more long-term reliability awards than any other make.
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