Nissan’s average pre-pandemic fleet mix hovered at about 30 percent, a TrueCar spokesman said, declining to disclose specific volumes. During the pandemic and subsequent supply chain shortage, which dramatically cut fleet sales across the industry, that share dropped to 18-to-20 percent. In recent months, the fleet share increased to about 25 percent.
Nissan, which in the past decade relied on aggressive sales to fleets to boost its North American volumes, has been on a multiyear effort to kick that habit, acknowledging that high fleet sales can hurt a brand’s residual values and dealer profitability.
Nissan said it isn’t wavering on that effort.
As production rebounds in 2023, Brockman expects retail availability of Versa, Sentra and Kicks to “improve significantly.”
“We continue to prioritize sales through the retail channel,” he said, “while managing fleet to be a positive contributor to our results and gain visibility with potential new customers for the brand.”
Nissan’s fleet ramp-up mirrors an industry trend as production volumes recover from the pandemic and factory shortages of the past few years.
General Motors said its fleet sales rose 27 percent to 150,000 units in the first quarter, representing 25 percent of its volume. Ford did not break out its fleet sales but reported an 86 percent jump in sales of Transit vans, most of which go to commercial buyers.
Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics at J.D. Power, said automakers, faced with limited inventories, prioritize fleet customers to maximize revenue.
“As production decisions are made many months in advance, changing market conditions may mean automakers are stuck with higher trim and option builds when they need the opposite,” Jominy told Automotive News. “The profitable fleet channel can be an outlet for more expensive products as the more aggressively priced units make their way through the supply chain.”