January was a good month for Detroit, at least when compared to the latter part of 2005. But it appears that this relatively strong performance was due to fleet sales.
GM's sales to rental agencies jumped 30% to 85,000 vehicles last month, which represents approximately 1/4 of the automaker's total sales. Well, so much for that goal of cutting fleet sales by 10% throughout the year (it is about time to start breaking New Year's resolutions, after all). Sales at GM dealerships dropped by 7% from one year ago.
Ford's fleet sales were up 21% in January, helping drive overall sales up 7% even though retail sales of the company's SUV products continue to nose-dive.