Since the beginning of the year, new vehicles sales have been booming for both import and domestic manufacturers alike.  More than 3.46M new units were sold in the first quarter, which is a result that has many analysts raising their full year forecasts.

Some analysts and industry executives are cautioning against being overly optimistic however, arguing that the unseasonably warm winter and higher volumes of fleet sales helped to inflate new vehicle growth over the past three months.

Exactly how many new vehicle sales can be chalked up as non-retail fleet deals? 

The simple answer is, a lot. 

Per CNW data, almost 1.3M or 37% of all new vehicles sold have been designated for fleet duty year-to-date.  This is a 5 percentage point increase over the same period of time last year.

Through the end of March, four of the six manufacturers that CNW tracks fleet sales on have a fleet penetration rate averaging 23% or more (this is the total number of fleet sales divided by the total number of all sales).  Topping the list are GM and Nissan at 27 and 26 percent, respectively. 

Interestingly, Chrysler group’s fleet penetration figure is second lowest at 21% (Honda is the most fleet independent at 14%).  This is curious considering that Chrysler’s individual brands of Chrysler and Dodge (cars) placed about 32% of all vehicles sold last year into rental fleets.  Jeep on the other hand only put an average of 14% of its vehicles into rental fleet. 

Historically the sheer volume of fleet units returning to the used market over a concentrated period of time has had a detrimental effect on used vehicle values.

Analysts here at the NADA Official Used Car Guide will continue to monitor the growing number of new fleet sales and will forecast the anticipated return to the secondary market using NADA’s proprietary used vehicle supply forecast.  Make sure to check out future issues of Guidelines and our used vehicle blogs, as we’ll be taking a closer look in the coming weeks at new fleet sale trends at the model level.