January is usually not a strong month for car sales as it just after the holidays and people don't have the money to buy a new car. This is reflected in our January sales figure ticker where most automakers post small increases and decreases. There were some automakers that posted some surprising numbers. Nissan reported a 10 percent increase and Toyota noted an impressive 16.8 percent rise. The two automakers credit their utility as a key reason for the rise. But Bloomberg reports there is another reason for these rises.
Pulling data from Cox Automotive, Bloomberg found out that fleet deliveries for the month rose 46 percent for Nissan and 69 percent for Toyota. Most of the sales came from rental car companies.
“If you want to claim 10 percent market share, that’s a way to do it. The danger is that you create a large number of late-model used cars that will compete with your new cars and bring down prices and profits,” said Maryann Keller, an independent auto industry consultant.
A number of automakers have been turning away from fleet sales for this very reason. GM which has been a poster child for fleet sales has been cutting back.
Toyota spokeswoman Amanda Roark told Bloomberg that fleet deliveries will be lower during the second half of this year and will likely make up "about 10 percent of its total U.S. sales in 2018." Judy Wheeler, Nissan vice president of U.S. sales explained the increase in fleet sales was due to them clearing out 2017 models to make way for 2018 models.
“It’s really just a timing situation for us,” she said.
It needs to be noted that Nissan has been increasing their sales to fleets within the past year.