Fleet sales were up 47 percent in the first quarter of this year, driving sales at a number of automakers. Ford, in particular, is targeting fleet sales unapologetically by touting a recovery in resale values for the Blue Oval Brand. Ford’s Mark Fields tells the Freep:
We love fleets at Ford…Ford remains focused on our disciplined approach to daily rental, making sure we help keep growing residual values
At Chrysler, which suffers from some of the lowest resale values in the business thanks in part to a longtime addiction to fleet sales, the response seems a bit more… conflicted.
Chrysler’s Peter Grady tells Automotive News [sub] that Auburn Hills is serious to getting fleet business to 25 percent of its sales mix, and that it will cap sales to rental fleets. He explains:
Our growth will come from large commercial and government markets
Of course he doesn’t mention that 58 percent of Chrysler’s February sales went to fleets (though AN [sub] does), nor does he specify details about the rental sales cap. But some kind of rental fleet sales reduction shouldn’t be too hard. Chrysler’s previous rental-fleet dumping grounds, Dollar-Thrifty, has been bought by Hertz, drying up the most loyal renter of Mopars. And the sale is no coincidence: according to Forbes, Dollar-Thrifty was vulnerable to takeover at least in part because of its exposure to Chrysler, and its plummeting resale values. Besides, as Automotive News [sub] has reported, Dollar-Thrifty dumped Chrysler before Chrysler dumped it. But then, Chrysler has been here before with the whole “capping fleet sales thing.” It hasn’t worked yet.