Some Asian automakers, eager to get more of their vehicles on U.S. roads, are increasing sales to less profitable fleet and rental-car customers at a much faster pace than Detroit automakers, according to a USA Today
story by Earle Eldridge.Asian automakers sold 425,873 fleet vehicles in 2001, up 80 percent from 1997.Mitsubishi, Mazda and Kia led the way, according to a USA Today
analysis of fleet registrations supplied by R.L. Polk.Fleet sales by U.S. automakers, 2.3 million in 2001, rose 5 percent over the same period. While General Motors, Ford Motor and DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group still dominate fleet sales, their share has dipped from 90 percent in 1997 to 85 percent.Polk registrations show the number of different models available for rental climbed to 176 in 2001 from 167 in 1997. During that time, models from Asian automakers went from 50 to 56, while models from U.S. automakers fell from 73 to 59.Consumers can use rentals as an opportunity to test vehicles they might want to buy. Automakers say people who drive their vehicles as rentals are more likely to buy them.