Big three keeping an eye on fleet sales

Oct. 25, 2010 at 1:58 PM
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DETROIT, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- As much as 30 percent of U.S. automobile sales this year will be sales to government or large companies -- fleet sales -- industry analysts said.

Ford Motor Co. said it was aiming to complete the year with 30 percent of its sales in the fleet sale category, which the industry considers a mixed blessing, The Detroit News reported Monday.

The News said Ford, with the largest percentage of fleet sales among the big three U.S. automakers, is trying to reduce its dependence on rental car companies, which help bolster some numbers, but come with the stigma that says the car in rental lots -- usually with limited features -- was a model that failed in dealer show rooms.

Flooding rental car lots with one model also dilutes the resale price of that vehicle, the newspaper said.

General Motors Co. said its fleet sales amounted to 30 percent of its sales, compared to 24 percent a year ago.

"In the old GM, we weren't as disciplined as we are today, said Brian Small, GM general manager for fleet and commercial operations.

GM now monitors its sales of fleet cars, to make sure fleet sales are not overrepresented by one particular brand, he said.

It is also trying to improve the image among rental fleets by including features that consumers expect -- perhaps even putting fleet sales into the category of a loss leader, rather than a sale of last resort.

"No longer are there plastic mats and crank windows in our cars. They now very closely mirror the vehicles in dealer showrooms," Small said.

Chrysler said it expects to close out the year with fleet sales at 25 percent of its overall sales, the News said.

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