Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler both had their best February for U.S. sales since 2006, Nissan North America posted its highest market share for any month ever, while General Motors is on pace to lose share for a fifth consecutive year. Experts say that the explanation for all these facts is fleet.
GM's fleet deliveries dropped 24 percent last month, resulting in a 1.5 percent drop in the company's overall sales. On the other hand, FCA's fleet sales surged 39 percent, Ford's jumped 42 percent, and Nissan's soared 54 percent. GM said it's making a strategic cutback in less profitable fleet sales. Ford attributed its February fleet bump to order timing and production capacity, saying lower deliveries to rental-car lots later in the year will make up for higher volumes in the first few months. Ford also defended its use of fleet, saying it's a profitable business and they manage it very well.
Fleet sales took on a negative connotation in years past when the Detroit 3 used bulk sales as a convenient way to unload excess inventory, often at a loss. Since the recession, analysts say, fleet sales generally have been less abused, but February was the industry's most fleet-heavy month in almost six years.