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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