Fleet sales offer short-term benefits with long-term consequences, noted Nick Woolard, TrueCar director of OEM and industry analytics. “Fleet sales help smooth out demand and keep factories running throughout the year,” he said. But an over-reliance on fleet can result, over time, in bloated used-car inventories that diminish resale values and turn away consumers, Woolard said.
The 2020 Sentra compact sedan showcased Nissan’s new fleet-lite diet.
Following its launch last January, the redesigned Sentra was not offered to rental fleets for about 10 months. That strategy paid off by lifting the model’s residual value 18 percentage points over the 2019 Sentra and 4 percentage points over the Toyota Corolla.
Nissan expects to apply the fleet-lite strategy to future model launches. The automaker will introduce three new or redesigned models this year, including an electric crossover.
“As we launch new vehicles into the market the plan is to put as little fleet as possible in,” Wheeler said. But Nissan isn’t quite ready to go cold turkey with fleet sales.
“You do want some awareness out there for your product as customers use rental vehicles when they go on vacation, or when they’re traveling for business,” she said.