This is excerpted from the Q&A in this month's Industry Brief:
I understand that, after a surge in the first nine months of 2010, new vehicle sales into rental declined in the fourth quarter. Is that true? What did the full year numbers look like, and what does it portend for 2011?
Yes, new vehicle sales into rental declined by 23% in the fourth quarter of 2010. That reduced what had been a 47% gain during the first nine months into a 25% increase for the year. As for 2011, we expect an increase of about 10%, which would push sales to 1.5 million, or possibly 1.6 million.
As for implications, the decline in rental sales in the fourth quarter means that the retail market at year-end was stronger than generally reported. We have also noticed a trend in recent years where both the number of new vehicle sales into rental and the number of units coming out of service has become more evenly distributed throughout the calendar year. That’s good thing.