Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Toyota began the year with a big increase in U.S. sales. But those numbers got a boost from rental-car companies and other fleets.
Toyota typically shies away from fleet sales, which are less profitable than sales to individuals. They can also hurt resale values and brand image.
Toyota sold 24,409 cars and trucks to fleets in January, a 47 percent increase from the same month a year earlier.
Toyota's U.S. sales chief Bob Carter told The Associated Press that the company is making up for rental sales it halted last year because of earthquake-related shortages. Toyota sold very few cars to fleets in the second half of 2011.
Carter says fleet sales will also be high this month, but will drop to more normal levels in March.