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Unusual Sales Trends in April Might Have Been Due In Part to Fleet Sales

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Large sales gains for FCA and severe sales losses for Nissan last month might have been caused in part by how many models each automaker sold to fleets

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Are fleet sales the secret to FCA’s recent sales success?

When April automotive sales were first reported earlier this month, there were plenty of surprises. While FCA’s sales were up by an impressive 4.5%, Nissan sales were way down, by 28% to be exact.

A closer look behind the scenes may reveal why FCA’s sales succeeded while Nissan’s sales faltered: fleet sales.

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Automakers rarely relay the exact amount of their vehicles sold to fleets in monthly sales reports. However, Cox Automotive does publish such information, and it might explain why sales were way up for FCA and way down for Nissan.

Year-over-year, FCA’s fleet sales grew by 31% during the April sales period. Sales for the automaker were projected to fall 1.4%, but a large uptake in fleet deliveries might have reversed that trend from negative sales to positive ones.

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Nissan’s sales were down by a significant amount last month

Nissan’s fleet sales, on the other hand, were down by 12% year-over-year in April. While this certainly doesn’t explain the entirety of Nissan’s sales decline last month, it does shed some light on why the decline might have been so extreme.

In the automotive world, fleet sales are sometimes viewed less favorably than retail sales. Fleet models are often discounted, and an abundance of fleet models can depress the value of the vehicles an automaker produces.

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Nissan and FCA weren’t the only ones to cut back on or increase their fleet sales. GM increased fleet sales by 12% in April, while Ford decreased its fleet sales by 8.6% during the same period.

In the months ahead, we shall see whether FCA’s sales increases and Nissan’s sales declines continue at their current rate. One of the many indicators for these trends will undoubtedly be the automakers’ sales to fleets.

News Source: Bloomberg