Low fleet volume took its toll on September truck sales

Oct 22, 2012

Decreased fleet volume and sales from a year ago hindered truck sales in September for major automakers such as General Motors, Ford Motor, Chrysler Group and Toyota, which experienced a combined 2.6% shortfall year-over-year in large pickup sales.

Although Toyota and Hyundai-Kia Automotive respectively increased fleet volume by 36% and 70% in September, Ford saw a reduced fleet volume by 5%. Chrysler experienced flat fleet volume in September while GM reported a 2% fleet decline.

Overall, major automakers’ fleet volume rose 1% in September while their retail sales jumped 15%, as reported by Jesse Snyder of Automotive News. Although small-car sales reached their highest numbers in a decade, truck sales were less impressive. Truck sales for GM fell 20% last month; the automaker said in a statement that the sales decrease was due to a 46% year-over-year reduction in fleet sales due to the timing of customer deliveries. GM’s large-pickup sales were down 12% from last year and fleet sales fell 56%.

“GM’s sales decline in this environment is a function of timing more than anything else,” Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales, told journalists and Wall Street analysts during a conference call to discuss the automaker’s September performance. “We began the new model year for the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra about 45 days earlier than last year, which prompted many fleet customers to pull ahead their purchases.”

Nissan North America saw a 20% cut in fleet sales, while Ford’s truck deliveries slipped 8%, partly due to the discontinuation of the mid-sized Ranger pickup and low fleet sales.

Chrysler Group, the only Detroit automaker to experience any type of substantial sales growth in September, was the only U.S. automaker to release a next-generation pickup, the Ram 1500, for the 2013 model year.