Counting Cars

Rental companies give US LV sales a boost

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See Key Data: U.S. Sales Summary table.

Rental companies bolster U.S. LV total

Detroit 3 up 22.1%

Chrysler breaks 100,000 mark for first time in 14 months.

Toyota lags field, up just 6.7%

U.S. automakers sold 1,101,017 light vehicles in May, up 19.2% versus year-ago. Deliveries translated into an 11.6 million unit seasonally adjusted annual rate.

May's results brought 2010 year-to-date deliveries to 4,620,001 cars and light trucks, up 17.3% from same-period year-ago.

Industry fleet sales were boosted by a normal seasonal increase in commercial fleet business as well as a spike in sales to rental companies which have been restocking after hanging on to vehicles for longer than usual during the downturn.

GM reported a 17.5% increase over year ago, with a 32% increase in sales of its core brands: Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac. GM said new launch vehicles continue to make up 1 out of 4 of the company's sales.

Fleet sales comprised 37% of GM's May deliveries, but the company says despite "frontloaded" sales to rental companies, its 2010 fleet mix should be close to 20% by the end of the year.

Fleet sales also boosted Ford Motor Co. (+22.2%) and Chrysler (32.8%) May deliveries, giving the Detroit 3 a combined 22.1% boost in LV sales versus same-month year-ago.

May was the first month since March 2009 that Chrysler sold more than 100,000 vehicles, with LV deliveries of 104,651. Ford - which is announcing today that it will shut down its Mercury brand - sold 9,128 Mercury cars and trucks in May.

Toyota continues to struggle to find its pace in 2010 - with yr/yr sales up just 6.7%. The company is intent on maintaining a fleet mix of about 10%, but it has been using uncharacteristically aggressive incentives to drive sales in certain segments, especially within the luxury market.

Honda sales were up 19.1% in May, on volume sales of 117,173, just above the company's April results, marking the third successive month of sales over 100,000 units. Mazda enjoyed one of its best months in recent memory with a 35.2% yr.-over-yr. increase in LV sales. Hyundai Group sales were up 27.7% in May on a volume of 80,476 units, just shy of Nissan's 83,764 units, which represents a 24.1% increase over May 2009.

Europe-based automakers, without heavy fleet sales, lagged the overall industry, up just 11.1% for the month. However, VW saw deliveries of its Volkswagen and Audi brands rise a collective 21% on volume sales of 32,748, while fellow German automaker Daimler AG's combined sales of Mercedes and Smart brand vehicles improved 22%, to 19,907.

BMW (-3.9%) Porsche (-5.4%) and Saab were all down.

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John Sousanis

John Sousanis oversees WardsAuto data operations as Director of Information Content, and is Ward’sAuto sales analyst. Follow John on Twitter @CountingCars.  

Haig Stoddard

Haig Stoddard is a veteran automotive industry analyst. His current focus is North America production and longterm sales forecasting.
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