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What are Auto Fleet Sales?

By R. Anacan
Updated May 16, 2024
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Auto fleet sales are sales of vehicles to companies, organizations, or government agencies that own a fleet of vehicles. Some types of businesses that may own large fleets of vehicles are rental car companies, businesses that deliver products or packages, taxi and shuttle services, and those that provide vehicles for employee use. Organizations or government agencies that may own a fleet of vehicles include charities, police departments, fire departments, postal services, armed forces and local and national government agencies.

Many vehicle manufacturers rely on auto fleet sales for a large percentage of their vehicle sales and offer special programs and incentives for fleet purchasers. In fact, when car companies tout a vehicle as being the “best-selling” in a particular category, it may be due in large part to auto fleet sales. Of course, manufacturers may not advertise the fact that a car’s sales volume is actually due to auto fleet sales, as opposed to sales to regular consumers.

There is also a negative aspect of fleet sales for vehicle manufacturers, as they typically generate lower profits per vehicle and often diminish the value of a vehicle in the public’s eye. For example, in the mid-1990s the Ford Taurus was the best-selling vehicle in its class in the United States. Ford featured this fact prominently in its advertising for the Taurus.

However, approximately 50% of its sales were to rental fleets and customers began associating the Ford Taurus with cheap rental cars. This in turn devalued the public’s perception of the Ford Taurus, which affected sales. Within a few years of being the best-selling car in its class, Taurus sales had dropped to such an extent that the nameplate was discontinued for a time by the Ford Motor Company.

Many companies, organizations and government agencies actually sell their used auto fleet vehicles to consumers. Some customers believe that purchasing a vehicle from an automobile fleet is a smart buy because these vehicles are routinely maintained and generally well-cared for while in use. Others believe that purchasing a vehicle from an auto fleet, especially a rental car company, can be risky. This is because while the rental car companies may routinely maintain and care for its vehicles, rental car customers are notorious for abusing and not taking care of the cars they rent.

Auto fleet sales may also refer to non-fleet customers purchasing vehicles directly from the fleet department of an automobile dealership. This process is commonly known as “fleetail” and enables non-fleet customers the ability purchase vehicles at discounted fleet pricing. Dealerships do not often advertise this service and many do not offer it, therefore it is recommended that customers interested in “fleetail” purchases contact their dealer and ask to speak to the fleet manager to find out if the dealer is able to offer fleet sales to non-fleet customers.

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Discussion Comments
By anon252897 — On Mar 07, 2012

i wonder how often fleet purchases are made by the large organizations. I wonder if the length of time the fleets last is lengthening.

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