Year To Date Retail Sales Decline At GM And Chrysler Masked By Surging Fleet Transactions

Tyler Durden's picture

As Automotive News points out in its expose on better than expected volume and top line results at GM and Chrysler, "Reports of robust post-bankruptcy sales at General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group need an asterisk." The reason, based on internal documents obtained by the publication: digging behind the headlines indicates that retail sales, or those that actually matter and are indicative of a vibrant end consumer (with or without rebates), are actually down year to date: 1% at GM, and 19% at Chrysler. "Essentially, GM and Chrysler regained the fleet business they lost during their troubled 2009 trip through bankruptcy. Counting
fleet of all types and retail sales, GM is up 13 percent this year, and
Chrysler is up 11 percent. That's close to the industry's 15 percent
" So basically if one were to strip away the rental companies, all of which themselves were on the verge of bankruptcy in early 2009, and have recently found themselves in a position of strength, courtesy of cheap floorplan financing and various cheap ABS conduits, the two bankrupt auto companies are doing worse off YTD than they did in 2009. If this is not indicative of the "strength" of the US consumer when it comes to medium-ticket purchases, little else is.

More from Automotive News:

Although he did not comment directly on Chrysler's fleet numbers, CEO Sergio Marchionne admitted recently that he is dependent on fleet sales.

"We all are -- every one of the Big 3, even the imports," he said July 30. "As new models start launching, you'll start seeing an increasing share of retail."

After stumbling badly in 2009, fleet sales soared to about 1.6 million units in the first seven months from fewer than 1 million a year earlier. Daily rental companies, contractors and other fleet operators that deferred vehicle purchases last year are more confident -- or are forced to replace worn-out vehicles.

GM sales Vice President Don Johnson said dealers are telling him that contractors are returning to showrooms.

Having shed Saab, Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer, GM's four surviving brands are up 18 percent retail through July, GM spokesman Tom Henderson said. Automotive News calculates GM's fleet sales rose 50 percent for its four brands this year.

Henderson did not dispute the numbers cited in this story but said that "it is invalid and misleading" to compare GM's current retail sales to a period when it had eight brands and that GM has "gained 1 point of retail market share."

Rebecca Lindland, head of North American auto research at IHS Automotive, said there is pent-up demand in fleet, but not necessarily any on the retail side. "Rental fleets are investing now because they bought very little last year and their vehicles are old," Lindland said.

Through July, GM and Chrysler are taking close to half the industry fleet surge. But others also are boosting fleet sales.

And for all those who expect the recent SAAR in the mid-11 million range to persist may be in for a rude awakening, if the struggling US consumer continues to revert to the new "frugal mean":

Manufacturers expect the pace of fleet sales to slow in the second half.
Ford, Chrysler and GM say fleet will be a smaller part of their sales
mix by year end. Pipas expects fleet volume to be about 30 percent of
Ford's sales for the full year. Henderson said GM's full year fleet mix
will be 25 to 26 percent, similar to 2009's 25 percent.

Full breakdown of July and YTD sales below.

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SDRII's picture

national champions meet industrial policy 2.o. Keep the production lines running at all costs. Now if we could figure out who is buying (or storing) all the tractors and trucks at CAT and DEERE

optimator's picture

I was impressed by the numbers until I saw the VA parking lot with fifteen plus Chevy Malibu parked in a line,  with Government plates,  just sitting there.

Edmon Plume's picture

That's a bad omen - it means that 15+ new government jobs will be created in VA.

johngaltfla's picture

Gee, that was hard to see coming.


Segestan's picture

Whatever.... GM and Chrysler are needed US manufacturing in America. Both have been great American innovators, employers and symbols of American greatness. But if they are going to get tax payer funding they should at least hire American manufacturing in America . Put those dollars to use, tax imports . ...screw globalization.

hack3434's picture

Both have been great American innovators


I wouldn't call push rod engines and live axles innovative after the 60's while the Japs and Germans were experimenting with Variable Cam timing, Boost, IRS and more efficient alloys.  

tmosley's picture

Excellent thinking, Komrade.

Segestan's picture

Oh,  stop it with the Komrade BS. GM and Chrysler ARE great companies IF they are managed by Americans and not Internationalist.

greased up deaf guy's picture

correction: "GM and Chrysler ARE great companies IF they are managed by Americans and not the government and the unions."

QQQBall's picture

I thought they were actually run by UAW?

Paying employees 100% for not working was truly innovative... For some reason, however, other corps have been slow to adopt. Go figure?

Edmon Plume's picture

No, what is needed are manufacturing enterprises that turn a profit, not ones that are overburdened by outrageous salaries and supersized benefit packages that bankrupt their employers.  Not ones that make products nobody wants.  Not ones that are owned by fascist governments, and suffer from the accompanying inefficiencies.  And certainly not ones that are subsidized above and beyond the market value just because they are "needed".  When you say "needed" you can only mean "wanted", and in that case feel free to send a check their way, but it's unjust to dip into the taxpayer's pocket for that purpose, as will be done ad infinitum.

The innovation you praise has come at great cost to the taxpayer, via redistribution of wealth, via subsidies.  If leeching is a symbol of American greatness, then we're all in big trouble.  And it now is.  And we are.

Segestan's picture

The roads you drive on, the water pipes you drink and piss in , the protection you get daily from the backwards commies and thier millions of soldiers ... all is tax payed so you can spout shit on the internet.

Devore's picture

Keep your "A Few Good Men" nonsense where it belongs: in Hollywood movies.

Segestan's picture

and you can keep you're views where they belong.... in the garbadge can.

Edmon Plume's picture

And that is perhaps the narrowest - and best - definition of government, as outlined in the Founders' vision.  Fix the roads, provide for the common defense (via a volunteer militia), and keep sewage from flowing in the streets (although more effectively CO-OP'd), are all reasonable interpretations that protect the common good.

But your opinion on GM and its ra-ra American greatness that shall be preserved and protected by tax dollars is not a reasonable use of government.  Why are there no Tuckers or Studebakers anymore?  REO Speedwagons?  Why did they not get saved?  Surely, their preservation would be for the common good.

Bow Tie's picture

the key phrase being 'have been'. nowadays they are failed and the rotting corpse doesn't wreak of 'american greatness'. but yes, why not move all operations to the US and speed up the inevitable :)

redarrow's picture

The halcyon days of being a manufacturing powerhouse that you refer to have long gone. The fact is that globalization has changed business expectations both for the shareholder and the consumer. For instance, somewhere in the third world a man opens his GE fridge and pulls out a diet Coke and drives his Ford to work. Companies here profit from access to world markets that dwarf local markets here in sheer size. If you think that you can just produce and the world will be just a willing consumer you are mistaken. If globalization is gone the biggest sufferers will be Americans. Can you imagine paying 5$ for a drill bit that sells for 1$ in Walmart? Now imagine trying to sell it for 5$ outside America. No cannot do that because a competitor will step in and sell it for 1$ in that market.

You cannot evangelize free trade when the goings good and then turn around when it gets competitive. 

Geoff-UK's picture

...hire American UNION workers, you mean to say...

johngaltfla's picture

Now the tax dollars can factually be demonstrated to be a waste.

Your education is prime proof.

They should have been allowed to liquidate.

Rogerwilco's picture

We were in a National Park over the weekend and I chatted with one of the park rangers. He said they were getting three new Chevy Impalas even though they never requested them and really didn't want them. These cars are useless in the winter months as they don't have 4WD.

fxrxexexdxoxmx's picture

BHO is a a wonderfully corrupt non leader.

kaiten's picture

Al right, but bikes sales are up so what´s the problem ;p

oklaboy's picture

let the fall begin

pizzgums's picture

i'll never buy a GovMot vehicle again; there are lots of others just like me.

screw the UAW.

Rusty_Shackleford's picture


ozziindaus's picture

GM is a thriving company.....once you put an S infront of it.

Note that SGM and GM are separate entities and untouchable by the US and Canadian tax payer. NA got the rust heap, China got the investment and innovation. NA receives token unsellable Volts, China receives small compact fuel efficient vehicles many American would buy.....and just may in future when the NA operations are completely dismantled.

PhotonJohn's picture

I wonder what the effect of taking away all of these incentive programs, the auto companies have implemented since 2003, would be? At some point could they just admit that this is the new real price of an auto so you do not have to figure out of the different incentives to get the price?

Geoff-UK's picture

You will all buy a GM or Chrysler soon...once the Federal Rebate exceeds the price of the car, you'd be a FOOL not to jump on the bandwagon!

Laugh now, but remember who predicted it 2 years from now...

guccichanel's picture

I Love gucci and chanel. Some women do not mind buying replica handbags, while some women just love designer handbags if you can distinguish between good and bed from the replica handbag?you also can use low price get high quality enjoy?today use chanel handbag ?tomorrow carry gucci handbag?the day after tomorrow hermes handbad in your hand? this niceness all give the credit to low price?same argument you also can buy replica watches?buy DVDs louis vuitton...