February was a stronger sales month than most of the US automakers have anticipated and apparently the driver was the level of fleet sales.
After record sales figures in 2015and a solid January start, the automotive industry in the United Sates kept its pace with the best February numbers since 2000. Auto sales last month rose 6.8 percent, driven by low gas prices and by customers’ trust in the country’s economy. But there was another pusher behind these results. Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler were the leading automakers in terms of growth rate last month, with Nissan also strong in February, while General Motors posted an unexpected decline of 1.5 percent. The drop reported by GM was because of a 24 percent fall in fleet deliveries. On the other hand, the sales charts for FCA revealed a 39 percent boost in fleet sales, Ford’s had a 42 percent increase and Nissan’s fleets jumped to 54 percent. “We like this business. It’s profitable business for us. We manage it very well,” Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president for US marketing, sales and service, told analysts and reporters. “For Ford, it’s product exposure. It’s very good business for us, and it’s run in a very disciplined fashion.”
Nissan spokesman Josh Clifton said to Automotive News that the company kept a “healthy balance” between fleet and retail. He attributed the February increase to launches of the freshened Altima and Sentra at the end of 2015. “These late-year launches meant that we had to deliver on our commitments to our corporate partners in a short period of time, which was not ideal,” he said. “Over the course of the year, we expect our fleet delivery curve to flatten back to our normal running rate of 16-17 percent for the full calendar year.”
Via Automotive News