Fleet Sales Decline 12% in April

(clockwise from upper l.) 2017 F-150, Silverado 1500, Titan, and Ram 1500. Photos courtesy of Ford, GM, FCA, and Nissan.
(clockwise from upper l.) 2017 F-150, Silverado 1500, Titan, and Ram 1500. Photos courtesy of Ford, GM, FCA, and Nissan.

Vehicle manufacturers sold 12.2% fewer cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs to rental, commercial, and government fleet buyers in April compared to a year ago in what has become a softening market for new vehicle sales, according to Automotive Fleet data.

Overall sales from Ford, General Motors, and Fiat-Chrysler declined 7.2%, 7%, and 7% respectively.

Sales into fleet segments reached 226,467 for the month, including 144,847 trucks, vans, and SUVs (an 8% decline) as well as 81,620 passenger cars (an 18.9% decline). Year-to-date sales have fallen 10.1% to 961,930 compared to 2016, including a 4.2% decline to 602,113 in the truck category and 18.5% to 359,817 in cars. Vans and SUVs are counted among trucks.

Sales for daily rental and to government users saw the sharpest declines of 12% and 16.7% respectively, while the decline among commercial fleet buyers reached 10.9%.

Rental buyers purchased 158,680 units, including 72,718 in the truck category (a 2.1% decline) and 85,962 cars (a 19.3% decline). Manufacturers have been reducing their allocation to rental in recent years.

Commercial purchasers added 61,895 vehicles, including 54,478 in the truck category (a 9.5% decline) and 7,417 in the car category (a 19.8% decline).

Government buyers purchased 29,925 units, including 24,521 in the truck category (a 17.9% decline) and 5,404 cars (down 10.9%).

Ford reported flat fleet sales of 73,933 units and a 7.2% overall decline to 214,695 in April. Retail sales declined 10.5%. Sales of F-Series trucks reached 70,657, which was essentially flat compared to a year ago (0.2% down). Ford sold more SUVs than a year ago (1.2% increase), including a 7% increase in Escape, 13% increase in Expedition, and 6% increase in Edge. Car sales fell 21.2%.

General Motors' fleet sales declined 11% to 52,495 units, which translates to a 7% decline adjusted for selling days, according to the company. Sales to rental companies declined 20%. GM is on track to reduce sales to rental fleets for the third consecutive year. Retail sales fell 4%. Sales of Chevrolet SUVs set a record for April and year-to-date.

FCA's fleet sales fell 21% to 30,650 units. Fleet sales represented 17% of total sales in April. Retail sales fell 3%. Ram Truck brand sales increased 5% with an 8% increase in pickup sales. Sales of Dodge Journeys increased 72% from a year ago.

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