By on January 8, 2013

GM is once again the top seller with government agencies, after losing that title to Ford over the past few years. A Bloomberg report based on a Freedom of Information Act request shows that GM sold 19,404 vehicles to the federal government in the fiscal year that ended September 30th, up 3.5 percent. Sales of Fords were down by 43 percent, to 10,734 vehicles.

Meanwhile, federal government purchases of Chrysler vehicles were down 11 percent to 9,468 units. While certain camps may be quick to link the auto bailout and the government’s purchasing decisions, GM had held the top spot in prior years, and Ford’s decline was blamed on rising prices for their new offerings. According to GM, federal government sales accounts for 3 percent of their entire sales.

Topping the sales charts for the feds was the Chevrolet Malibu, with 4,341 sold at an average transaction price of $15,778. Also popular were the Chevrolet Impala and Tahoe, the Ram 1500, Dodge Grand Caravan, Ford Focus and F-Series trucks.

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52 Comments on “GM Regains Its Crown As Government Car Of Choice...”


  • avatar
    Mazda323

    TTAC editing/proofreading is never perfect, but it’s not a huge deal since the content is good. But come on, guys… in the headline?

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    To be fair, wee need to see the overall fleet sales figures to see if the federal government is favoring GM , or if it is just a reflection of the fleet market at the moment.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I would think Ford is still feeling the affect of the demise of the Crown Victoria.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      That is probably a compliment to Ford.

      The government sets certain minimum specifications and then buys on price. If the primary buyer of your automobile is the government it is not a compliment to the vehicle itself.

      A good example is GMC medium duty trucks; the trucks were poorly designed and cheaply built but they would win government bids because they would meet minimum specifications on paper. Private (non-rental) fleet buyers avoided them like the plague because they were cheaply made and drivers generally hated them. Sit in and/or drive a GMC truck vs. an International or Freightliner and the difference is obvious immediately.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Agreed — this is the operative point:

        “Ford’s decline was blamed on rising prices for their new offerings”

        Those who have done government procurement know that it works exactly how Toad said. The federal government prefers to buy inferior products at a lower price, just like they use the low bidder on construction contracts, and then end up paying more money to fix it than it would have cost to get a good contractor.

      • 0 avatar
        windnsea00

        The GMC C6500/C7500 trucks were so crappy. I worked for Budget Car & Truck Rental a few years back and from 2004-2007 they loaded up on a ton of the C7500 models for the 24′ box trucks with either the 7.2L CAT engine or later on the 7.8L Isuzu.

        The interiors vibrated to hell (especially with the CAT), they rode like an ox cart, and cheap plastic parts would break off time to time. The International 4300’s they had were far better pieces of machinery, especially with the DT466. The VT365 had a 50/50 chance of running great or having some problem haha.

        Now I see they are buying Ford, Hino, and International’s for the new 24′ box trucks.

  • avatar

    GM stock is up $5 a share since the feds cashed out of GM.’

    GM could give us a better price on the cars we helped them make.
    That might look like a bad deal for the other makers, but if GM
    was losing on each sale maybe not.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Definitely a result of the death of the Crown Vic.

  • avatar
    areader

    “GM could give us a better price on the cars we helped them make.”

    A little hard to say without knowing the content, but I assume, and hope, the cars are mostly strippers.

    After reading and reading and reading the glowing comments of Zachman re. the Impala, I was sold. Got a lightly used LS that Enterprise traded in. Just over 13k miles for just under $16. Has bluetooth and power seats. I’m wondering about the economics of that chain. How much rent could Enterprise have collected for 13k miles in the seven months they had it? Don’t know how much profit the dealer made, but looks like the car sat on the lot for 2.5 months.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      That is kind of a rip off. You could have probably gotten one brand new for 16k, the discounts are enormous.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      The definition of stripper has changed. Expect AC/AM/FM/CD/AT and a decent engine in a GSA vehicle. Long gone (thankfully) are the days of vinyl seats, vinyl floor, no AC, AM radio, and the smallest engine coupled with an AT. Or do you think government types need to be punished for doing their jobs? Oh it gets better; I’m a contractor and I’ve followed GSA vehicles to a conference. It’s against the rules for me to ride in a GSA, I do get mileage for driving my own car.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Twenty years ago, the Department of Energy had gray K-car sedans with manual transmissions. No kidding! And you were supposed to do a full walk-around the vehicle before driving (to make sure that parts hadn’t fallen off?).

    • 0 avatar
      npbheights

      I am currently driving a rental 2012 Impala LS. (Built 11/11) I chose it over a Kia Optima due to all of the raving about it by TTAC commentators. My first impression was that it was like driving a brand new car from the 1990’s. While the car is quick, the drivetrain is quite crude feeling. The transmission feels like it is hunting and pecking at the gears. The engine sounds like it is going to come through the firewall under moderate acceleration. While the factory Goodyears lived up to their name – they were good for about a year – the Prime Well tires that replaced the fronts do the car no favors and I can’t blame the wobble or the tire whine on the car, but it does add to the misery. I hate black interiors, so I wont comment too much on the interior, but the seat fabric looks like a towel and the seats feel hard as a rock after about 10-15 minutes. The instrument cluster has tiny thin chrome rings around the gauges that reflect a little red dot from the illuminated needles. I can’t figure if it was intentional or not, but it looks like hell and drives me nuts! I was mildly interested in the W body due to their near Panther status on here but now it is totally out of my system – I can’t wait to give it back to Enterprise, it’s rightful owner.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        That’s strange because the LS grade Impala does not have any chrome around the gauges whatsoever. The LT and LTZ trim level have the chrome trim and it never has reflected any red dot or glare in the 4 years of ownership in my 2LT. I also have to question the comment about the engine/transmission feeling crude. Against what? If anything the LFX is very smooth and quiet and within reach of some of the better V6’s for NVH, even up to it’s 6500 RPM cut off. The 6 speed in any of the 12’s I have driven actually shifts better than many other 6 speeds both in GM and Ford I have driven recently. Tires make a huge difference on these cars. Mine just got 4 new Goodyear LS’2 and it now rides quiet and handles much better than it has in the 4 years of ownership. I find the soft pleasant seat material far far easier to live with than the harsh fake sand paper rough garbage that many other car’s use, especially the cheaper lower end models. If anything my 2008 Impala has treated me so well in the past 100,500 miles that I’m strongly considering a 2013 as a replacement.

      • 0 avatar
        npbheights

        Ok, so I have to eat crow a little bit. After doing some research, I see that the 6 speed automatic in the 2012 Impala is the exact same unit that is in my 2010 Lincoln MKZ. In my car it feels like it always knows what gear it should be in. Maybe the Impala needs a re flash of the software. The 12 has a thin chrome strip around the gauges. Maybe it is different than your ’08. I guess its not that big of a deal. As I drove it today, I was looking for positive things. I noticed that there was not a squeak or a rattle anywhere. It is also pretty quiet for a non luxury car. The steering has a good feel to it. It is generously sized up front. It also has an “honest” feel to it. Nothing fancy, but I could see it becoming a ‘faithful steed’. The seats are still a bit hard for me. If you love your ’08, you should get a ’13.

  • avatar

    “Ford’s top seller to the government was the compact Focus”

    Hmmm… Focus (Sync) or Malibu? I’ve figured out the mystery…

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Topping the sales charts for the feds was the Chevrolet Malibu, with 4,341 sold at an average transaction price of $15,778.”

    Well it looks like they found someone to buy these, perhaps the Malibu will go back to being the fleet/rental car du jour.

    • 0 avatar

      You don’t think these might possibly be the previous model that is still being produced and sold to fleets?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Where? As far as I knew, KCAP was all tooled up to build the new generation Malibu.

        The Impala is now Chevy’s fleet legacy car. The new and old model will be produced at the same time. I wonder if they’ll rename the W body the ‘Classic’ ala 2004 carryover Malibu.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        @danio

        This is a report that comes from the Fiscal year which ended in September.

        So, its Sept 11-Sept 12.

        They still build the old Malibu thru last July…they only built the expensive ECO model of the new Malibu until Julyish…thus, most of these were probably the old body style.

      • 0 avatar

        Kansas City is still building the Malibu “Fleet” alongside the LaCrosse and the new 2013 Malibu.

        http://www.gmfleet.com/chevrolet/2012-malibu-fleet-sedan.html#galleryitem02

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        You learn something every day. No wonder they sell the most government vehicles, they have the biggest selection.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @TCBRacing

        Honestly it hadn’t crossed my mind, but then General didn’t have as much moving the last spec as it is with the current Malibu… I figured they were dumping the redesigned one cheap in order to prop up volume and get it out on the roads.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    And yet, despite the fact it’s a sales dud and is redundant in the GM lineup, the new Malibu looks attractive to me. It makes me doubt myself.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    It makes perfect sense, it is Government Motors after all, isn’t it?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    GM gov’t car of choice?

    Hey! At least GM is number one in something. Give credit where credit is due!

    I figure they’re trying to get their money back. Us…not so much.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I’m surprised Chrysler didn’t do better with this pork project. I also wonder why any government needs to buy automobiles other than for law enforcement uses or special vehicle requirements. Most private companies reimburse employees for using their POV for business uses. Gotta be cheaper than buying all those cars.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      “Most private companies reimburse employees for using their POV for business uses. Gotta be cheaper than buying all those cars.”

      It’s more expensive to buy the cars up front. But in the long run, it is cheaper for the government to have pool-maintained fleet cars, than to reimburse employees for using their own cars. The reimbursement amounts tend to be overly generous (you don’t want to shortchange the employees after all). Also- there is no down time when you have a fleet of vehicles. If one car is out of commission, you could take another car. Whereas with employees driving their own cars (especially people driving beater cars, who are trying to make a profit out of the mileage reimbursement) could have down time.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Are the reimbursement amounts the same as the IRS standard mileage rates? 56.5 cents/mile this year.

        http://www.irs.gov/uac/2013-Standard-Mileage-Rates-Up-1-Cent-per-Mile-for-Business,-Medical-and-Moving

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My government agency (let’s be honest public schools are run on tax dollars) is no longer reimbursing employees for personal vehicle usage PERIOD. Although if I’m just going to Albuquerque (165 miles one way) I take my personal vehicle and just say “screw it.” My districts system for booking a vehicle forces you to do it weeks in advance.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Dan as a teacher (and now principal) do you think it would be fiscally possible to run a school (or school district) without tax money? Assuming you had the power to reshape it as you liked of course.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    The federal employees driving Pentastar-equipped Dodge Grand Caravans have the sleeper of the century. I live near a major federal office and have seen some 2011+ G-plated Caravans travelling quite rapidly.

    If I were a federal worker and got upgraded from the 180 h.p. 3.3L with 4 speed to the ~290 h.p. with 6 speed transmission, I’d be one happy bureaucrat. Aside from the 303 hp Impalas (which seem to have been replaced by 4-cyl Malibu’s), it would be my g-ride of choice.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      Sorry, gotta go with a Blacked-out Suburban with full tinted windows. Nothing else quite says CIA.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      What’s sleeper about a van that runs with a 4 cylinder Camry?

      The Pentastar has a good top end but you’re leaving out that it’s in a van that’s a passenger away from 5,000 lbs.

      That van rolls on skinny tires suitable for a 3,200 lb car.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        My father recently bought a 2012 Caravan R/T “man van”. It actually handles really well and the factory kumhos don’t have any issues with grip.

        As for hanging with a 4 banger Camry? Well those run 15 second 1/4 mile times now, so that’s really a compliment to both vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        A 2013 Caravan SE weights 4321 so those would have to be a 300 plus LB driver and equally larger passenger to get to 5000 LBS! The tire sizes on the Caravan in 16 and 17″ sizes are plenty adequate because it actually has a suspension that handles unlike the geriatric Camry which needs massive tires for any cornering ability. And as far as a 178 HP 4 cylinder Camry hanging with a 283 HP Caravan, well maybe in the world of TTAC but out in the real world it says differently. A rental 2012 LE automatic 2.5(the 13 is identical)could only manage 8.4-8.5 seconds using a g-tec and double confirming with a stop watch. Edmunds ironically also supports my times with a 8.4 second 0-60 and 16.1 1/4 time which is the absolute best this car would do on a 50 degree cool dry day. In comparison the new Accord did 7.8 seconds in the same run and a new 2013 Malibu 2.5 did it in 7.7 seconds! The Altima and Sonata are also quicker than the Camry 2.5.
        Meanwhile the 2011-13 Caravan with the 3.6 gets to 60 in 7.4 seconds(from C&D’s watch) and I even managed 7.2 in one rental SE with more break in miles meaning the Caravan would be showing it’s taillights to the Toyota more and more as speeds increased. So as far as minivans go the current Caravan is indeed a sleeper.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      @Dan –

      To me, being a great sleeper means the car is than anyone thinks it is, not necessarily that the car runs 12 second quarters. I drive a 2011 Caravan. Unsuspecting drivers routinely think the mere fact its a van means it has a boat anchor for an engine and can’t go above 45 mph. I love beating them to that hole in traffic. Also, there is a particular joy in repeatedly shaming proto-Fast and Furious mobiles with fart-can exhausts in a breadbox on wheels.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    FYI Fleet Impalas are selling pretty stinking cheap on government contracts right now. My district purchased one the MSRP of a fleet model was about 50% of the MSRP of what you could build an LS model for on the Chevy website. How does GM make any money on this? (Not that anyone paid MSRP for a new Impala anytime recently.)

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      That’s because there is a 1FL (fleet) trim level that you can’t see on chevy.com that is stripped even more…

      No Onstar
      No steering wheel controls
      A different audio system
      etc

      All taking cost out of the build.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I would miss steering wheel controls but could probably manage the rest of the cheapening changes.

      • 0 avatar
        19 Pinkslips

        I scanned the options list for a ’13 Malibu Fleet, it only comes with the old 2.4 169hp Ecotec, not the 2.5 mill. Much like the early fleet models of the previous generation came with the pushrod 3.5 V6 which was not avail to the public but was MUCH cheaper to build then either motors avail to retail customers.

        Anyone else impressed that the avg transaction cost was ~$15k, the MSRP for a fleet model was $22k. Not bad.

        I work for a major gov’t agency, we’re loaded with ’08-’10 hybrid Malibus, Fusions and Escapes. These were bought with cash-for-clunkers funding to replace ANCIENT(and awful) Corsicas and B250 vans.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @PrincipalDan…The tooling has long since been paid for. Impala will be going to fleet only,soon.

    In your part of the world an Impala has an infinite life span.

  • avatar
    areader

    @Mandalorian
    “That is kind of a rip off. You could have probably gotten one brand new for 16k, the discounts are enormous.”

    Yeah, sure. GM site has $3k rebate, Edmunds has $3,500. I don’t know what dealer profit is but it’s not much. But you know somebody, right?

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      MSRP is just a number, my friend. If you are a skilled negotiator and go into a dealership ready to talk, you can get a significant discount. I bumped 5k off the MSRP of my 2012 Q7 and that is before trade in.

      See here, not too far off:

      http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?endYear=2014&zip=54650&listingType=new&listingTypes=new&sellerTypes=b&showcaseListingId=336089153&mmt=%5BCHEV%5BCHEVIMP%5B%5D%5D%5B%5D%5D&modelCode1=CHEVIMP&sortBy=derivedpriceASC&makeCode1=CHEV&startYear=2012&showcaseOwnerId=277064&searchRadius=0&listingId=332429672&listingIndex=2&Log=0

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        That car has almost 4000 miles on it already…it might be a loaner or something else that makes them be able to list as ‘new’

        But, don’t use this as an example of being able to get a new Impala for the price you originally said.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    I shot an arrow into the air. It had no point but, I didn’t care.

  • avatar
    areader

    “MSRP is just a number, my friend. If you are a skilled negotiator and go into a dealership ready to talk, you can get a significant discount. I bumped 5k off the MSRP of my 2012 Q7 and that is before trade in.”

    Yep, I see your point now. I paid 2k less than your find.


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