Big 2.8 Fleet Cuts: The Big Lie
Like any Big Lie, this one's based on fact. Automotive News [sub] reports "Through April, Chrysler reduced fleet sales by about 45,000 units, or 17 percent, from a year earlier. GM cut fleet sales by nearly 40,000 units, or 14 percent. And Ford Motor's fleet sales fell 25,000 units, or 9 percent." Both AN and our good friends at Autoblog are happy to parrot the "admirable restraint" explanation. In other words, Detroit could dump sales into fleets, but chooses not to to protect vehicle residuals. AN: "GM is not going to reconsider its decision to reduce fleet sales, said Brian McVeigh, GM's general manager of fleet and commercial operations. Residual values have been rising since GM started cutting daily rental fleet sales three years ago." Autoblog: "Showing great discipline amid declining sales, the Detroit 3 have held back on the temptation to dump vehicles on fleet customers in order to boost numbers." Bullshit. First, the rental car business is in the crapper; they're buying less cars. Second, ALL fleets are holding onto their vehicles longer. Third, they're not buying Detroit gas hogs (or even their relatively thirsty cars). Fourth, reflecting U.S. sales trends, fleet buyers are switching to more fuel-miserly transplant products (ToMoCo sold 100k units into the fleets in the first four months of '08). Fifth, if you think WE'RE nervous about Detroit's prospects, how would YOU like to be a finance company that gets stiffed with a hundred thousand cars made by a bankrupt automaker? And sixth, how gullible IS the U.S. automotive press anyway?
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