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US Auto Market Posts Record Sales in February With Big Fleet Sales Pumping The Numbers

Even as the US auto sector is booming while car sales slide in the rest of the world, analysts are looking for warning signs of a slowdown in America.

The robust 6.9 percent increase in February US auto sales featured one potentially alarming statistic. Low margin, high volume fleet sales were up 35 percent industry-wide. These include rental cars, corporate sales vehicles and light truck utility fleets.

Ford posted an eye-popping 20.2 percent sales increase with more than a third of its volume made up of fleet sales. And while fleet sales are certainly legitimate and profitable if tightly managed, surges like this can be a red flag of a slowdown in the super hot US market.

This statistic was made even more significant when General Motors gave up sales in February partially because of a strategic 40 percent cutback in fleet sales, to focus on more profitable single car sales where GM saw nearly a 7 percent increase.

These warning signs are significant because while certainly positive … US auto industry growth can drop-off very quickly if too many artificial factors are pumping up sales figures.