The automobile industry produced a slew of bad numbers in February, but one of the steepest declines -- the 71% drop in Chrysler's fleet sales -- was just the way Chrysler wanted it. Since 2007, the Detroit Three have sought to de-emphasize fleet sales, which at expanded levels had become symbolic of a flaw in their former business models. To create work for employees who could not efficiently be laid off, automakers produced an excess of cars that they sold cheaply, sometimes below cost, to rental car companies, government and corporate fleet buyers. Today's economy has forced a dramatic overhaul of the old Detroit business model. Labor costs are falling, fuel efficiency is rising, production is being slashed to better meet demand and fleet sales are lower. No one has been more adamant than Chrysler in embracing the move to reduced fleet sales. "We started restructuring 17 months ago (and) we're putting our resources in retail," said President Jim Press, in a sales conference call with reporters and analysts. "Retail is the bulk of the market. No one is going to make money just selling fleet." In February, General Motors ( GM) reported an even steeper fleet sales drop than Chrysler, with a 75% decline, while Ford ( F) said fleet sales declined by 52%. At GM, the decline occurred largely because rental car companies "took 2009 models in the summer, then canceled or reduced (orders) and decided to hang on longer," said Mark LaNeve, sales vice president. "The traditional nine- to 12-month turns became 22-month to 24-month turns." GM's long winter production slowdown also has contributed to the drop.