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Brand New Camry and 8 year Old Cruze Top Rental Fleet Sales

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The U.S. auto industry is on a roll by most accounts, with industry volume sizzling and profits riding high on a SUV and pickup-truck boom. There is a weak spot, however.


Retail demand for bread-and-butter passenger cars, such as the Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Cruze, has softened amid lower gasoline prices. This is leading high-volume auto makers to send more of these types of cars to rental car fleets, a practice that keeps production lines humming but can dent resale values and clip margins. 


About 21% of the compact cars and 20% of the midsize cars sold during the first quarter ended up in daily rental fleets, up from about 17% in the same period a year earlier, according to the most recently available U.S. registration data. For subcompact cars, the daily rental mix was 28% for the period, up from 24% in the prior year.


Registration data, compiled by IHS Automotive, was provided to The Wall Street Journal by industry sources. IHS declined to confirm the numbers, saying its data is proprietary.


The data presents a troubling caution flag for a U.S. auto industry enjoying the strongest demand in more than a decade. The push toward rental-car fleets indicates a key portion of the market is being artificially supported.


The Chevy Cruze had the highest volume of cars going to rental car fleets during the quarter, amounting to about 45% of the compact’s total sales, followed by the Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Chrysler 200.


About one-quarter of sales for the popular Camry, the best-selling passenger car in the U.S., were to rentals in the first quarter, up from 14% a year ago. Roughly 39% of Chrysler 200 sedan sales went to rental fleets. For the Nissan Altima, the rental-car mix was 27%.


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Meaning that of the 105K Cruzes... 47K went to Rental. Camry 44K of its 178K went to rental... a WHOPPING 27K of the 68K brand new 200s that have been sold.. are rental cars. I have to say that despite Cruze numbers being highest.. the fact that it has been on the market now for 8 years while the 200 and Camry have been new for 1 year and about 6 months respectively and are already fleet heavy is disturbing

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