By on June 5, 2020

2019 Nissan Altima

Replay the last couple of years and you’ll hear a chorus of automaker pledging their allegiance to sustainable business practices. Streamlined operations, pared-down lineups and build configurations, reduced incentives, and a newfound preference for retail sales over the volume-at-all-costs approach. No single company touted this more than Nissan, though it was hardly alone.

The coronavirus pandemic, in some cases, sped up the need to find firmer financial footing, even if incentivization became the name of the game in order to move any car or truck. One thing’s for sure: fleets, especially rental fleets, sure weren’t interested.

Data from Cox Automotive shows that, even as retail sales rebounded following the lifting of lockdown orders, fleets orders remained radically depressed.

Year over year, fleet sales in May fell 83.2 percent, Cox reports, compared to a retail drop of just 16 percent. In terms of actual units, that comes out to 52,203 vehicles sold to fleets versus 311,202 sold the same month last year.

As executive analyst Michelle Krebs noted, the slow ramp-up of production and the need to replenish starving dealerships means vastly reduced (and less profitable) fleet sales are of a lesser concern. “If there is ever a good time for bad fleet, it’s now,” Krebs remarked.

While overall fleet sales in May were a shadow of its former self, sales to rental agencies appeared on the side of a milk carton. With agencies like Hertz drowning in debt, cancelling fleet buys, and seeking bankruptcy protection, it’s no shock to learn that rental sales fell 91.3 percent, year over year, last month.

Seeing the greatest volume loss from vanished fleet sales in May were rental lot denizens Nissan and Fiat Chrysler, Cox data shows.

[Image: Nissan]

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8 Comments on “They Wanted Fewer Fleet Sales, and They Got It...”

  • avatar

    Dodge makes good-enough cars with plenty of features, and sells them cheap. I rented a Grand Caravan last week. It was perfectly fine. If I had four kids and needed to keep costs low, I’d rather get the good enough car than have my kids see me stress over the Honda tax.

    • 0 avatar

      I couldn’t agree more

    • 0 avatar

      My daughter has one and it has been pretty robust over the first 100,000 miles or so. This was a two year old lease return purchased from a DCJ dealer and even assuming a near zero value two more years from now (probably 140,000 miles at that point) the cost per mile will be pretty reasonable.

      The part I don’t know about the Honda “tax” is how the two compare on a new lease deal. Does the Honda resale lead to better lease prices?

  • avatar

    91% is big. Even if you’re a “the glass is 9% full” kind of person.

  • avatar

    One fleet that should surge in the coming month or so is the police fleet…hundreds, if not thousands destroyed during the latest civil unrest of destroying both private and public property.

  • avatar

    Our company had OEM sales. We didn’t make a lot of money on them, but once engineered they sold in good volumes, maybe 10%-20% of total, to keep the shop going with steady work. So I don’t see the real problem with fleet sales. I think this is more of a problem with management not doing their job.

  • avatar

    I’ll be happy to see fewer Altimas when I rent. I was looking forward to the old Impala after awhile. I had nothing but trouble with the clunky keyless Altima ignition units.

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