Nissan Miss, Fiat Chrysler Beat Spurred in Part by Fleet Sales

(Bloomberg) -- Nissan Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s U.S. sales surprises last month are easier to understand with data that few carmakers release: how many vehicles they shipped to fleet customers.

Those deliveries surged 31 percent last month for Fiat Chrysler and fell 12 percent for Nissan, according to Cox Automotive estimates. Fleet sales are generally viewed less favorably because they tend to be discounted, and too many of them can depress the value of vehicles that regular consumers own.

Nissan shocked analysts by reporting a 28 percent plunge in total U.S. sales for April, a much bigger drop than the average projection for a 9.7 percent decline. Fiat Chrysler reported a 4.5 percent gain in total deliveries, beating analysts’ average estimate for a 1.4 percent decrease.

General Motors Co., which is transitioning to quarterly reporting and didn’t release April results, boosted fleet sales by about 12 percent, according to Cox Automotive estimates. Ford Motor Co. reported an 8.6 percent drop.

Rental-car companies usually account for most of automakers’ sales to fleets, though the figures also include shipments to government and commercial customers.

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