2012 Model-Year Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep Cars, Trucks, and Minivans
The year 2012 was a major boon to Chrysler, as sales and quality both increased markedly, and the company brought in a $1.7 billion profit (despite increased advertising and vehicle-development expenses).
Three new 392-powered SRT8 vehicles debuted for 2012: Charger (with Super Bee), 300C, and Grand Cherokee. The 6.4 liter (392 cid) Hemi had debuted in the 2011 Challenger. The eight-speed ZF automatic was used on V6 Chargers and 300s, while Durango, Ram, and Grand Cherokee got a new six-speed 65RFE truck transmission (66RFE for some Rams) with their V8s. In 2013, all Grand Cherokees and Durangos would move to the eight-speed.
The most important launch of the year was most likely the 2013 Ram 1500 and 2013 Ram Heavy Duty. The 2013 Ram leapfrogged Ford to get the highest gas mileage of any American full-size pickup, by a large margin: 18 city, 25 highway on the V6 HF model. Gas mileage was nearly as good on the standard V6 pickups, aided by an eight-speed automatic that would, in 2013, be added to the Hemi models as well, as an option (it was standard on V6).
The 1.4 liter turbo Fiat engine was launched in 2012, in the 500 Abarth and Dodge Dart; originally imported from Italy, both Fiats and Darts used domestic-production engines from Dundee, Michigan, as soon as the line was up and running.
The proportion of cars rose; passenger cars (sedans, convertibles, and coupes) now made up over 30% of sales, up from 25.9% in 2011. Small and mid-sized cars increased with the launch of the Fiat 500, while large and specialty car sales rose with upgrades of the 300/300C, Charger, and Challenger. The largest chunk of Chrysler sales (31.5%) remains SUVs, bolstered by the hot-selling Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.
During the year, Chrysler announced the closure of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum to the general public.
Ram and Mopar-sponsored Ricky Johnson and Bryce Menzies won the 2012 TORC championships in PRO 4X4 and PRO 2WD, respectively, just as they had won the 2011 championships; Ricky Johnson is one of the founders of the series. TORC stands for “The Off Road Championship,” and is a fast-paced short-course dirt-road racing series which includes jumping “natural terrain.”
Dodge achived its first NASCAR car championship in decades: Brad Keselowski won the Sprint Cup in the # 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger. It was Penske Racing's first Sprint Cup. Sam Hornish was No. 4 in the Nationwide Series in the # 12 Dodge Challenger. Almost immediately afterwards, Chrysler announced its withdrawal from NASCAR car racing, apparently because it was unable to work out a deal with major teams and suppliers.
It was the “Year of the Hemi” in pro drag racing as Dodge drivers brought home ten wins each in Funny Car and Pro Stock, two national championships (for the second consecutive year in Funny Car) and four of the six top spots in their classes. It was also a perfect 75th anniversary celebration for Mopar.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson, gained his career-best seventh Wally for the 2012 season. Fellow Dodge Avenger driver Vincent Nobile finished the season in third place. The Funny Car crown came down to a final-day slugfest between a pair of Mopar HEMI-powered heavyweights, lasting until the second-to-last round of the season. Jack Beckman’s victory gave team owner Don Schumacher both nitro championships and more than a million dollars in earnings for the weekend.
The new Dodge cars
Dodge Dart, the C-segment 4 door sedan, taking over for the Caliber, filled the gap vacated by the Neon. One of the first cars from the widened version of Fiat’s C-EVO platform (CUSW), it was built at Belvidere, with a choice of 1.4 liter turbo Fiat engine, Tiger Shark 2.0, and Tiger Shark 2.4 (the latter was not available until mid-2013).
A midyear launch, the 2013 Dodge Dart sold slowly, as supplies were limited to certain models with manual transmissions, the price tags often ended up being higher than those of the well-discounted Avenger and 200, and the general public did not seem inclined to try the new car anyway, for various reasons.
The reruns: continuing Dodges
Production of the Detonator and Shock models ended; Dodge dropped the new Express, Heat, and Main street models on the Avenger, in favor of the traditional SE and R/T models, accompanied by the new Lux and new-old Rallye names.
Dodge Charger V6 went from from 18 city/27 highway to 21 city/31 highway with the ZF eight-speed automatic. Charger V6 acceleration moved up to V8 levels. V8 models will continue with the five-speed Mercedes WA580 automatic for the time being, but many expect them to also move to the eight-speed in model year 2014.
The Avenger R/T got a unique interior with a center tachometer, “Z-stripe” seats, "spider monkey" wheels, fender stripes, and red LED ambient lighting. Most customers are expected to opt for the mid-range Rallye model, with around half opting for the four and half for the six.
Journey carried forward with its Express, R/T, and Lux, renaming Mainstreet to Crew. The Lux gained chrome on the sides, and Crew got fog lamps. Most buyers are expected to go for Crew and Crew Plus.
Grand Caravan adopted the new names, with four models: Express, Crew, Crew Plus, and R/T. Mainstreet was swapped for Crew, while the existing Crew moved to Crew Plus. Numerous option package changes were made, leather quad seats were made optional on R/T, and a new "sapphire blue" interior lighting setup was added.
Durango was the only model to keep the Heat name; CrewLux was dropped. The six-speed Chrysler-engineered 65RFE automatic replaced the 545RFE five-speed on V8 models (the transmissions were almost identical).
2012 Chrysler cars and minivans
New 300 models for 2012 were the Chrysler 300 S, 300C SRT8, and 300C Luxury Edition (née Executive), which put much of the Thema interior into the 300C.
- JS Chrysler 200 and Chrysler 200 Convertible — new for 2012: S series.
- LX Chrysler 300C and 300
- RT Chrysler Town & Country
In 2012, the Chrysler 300 gained an eight-speed automatic, with expected best-in-class V6 gas mileage; the ZF-sourced transmission also increased performance. It started out as an option on 300, standard on 300 Limited and 300 S V6. V8 models continued essentially unchanged, and the Luxury, S, and SRT8 joined the roster. AWD became available in Limited (it had been restricted to 300C). Changes included a new cloth interior for 300 and new Harmon Kardon 19-speaker audio option.
For 2012, the Chrysler 200 and 200 Convertible continue mainly unchanged, other than crystal blue replacing sapphire crystal, and deep auburn arriving. The 200S had a 276-watt Boston Acoustics stereo, heated leather seats, special wheels, standard V6, and other features. Chrysler noted that the 200 was cheaper than comparably equipped Malibu, Fusion, Camry, Altima, and Accord. Indeed, a 200 Limited was cheaper than a similarly equipped Dart.
Packages were streamlined on the 2012 Town & Country, and roof strength was increased; a new brake kit was standard with 17 inch wheels, UConnect Hands-Free was standard across the board, a wood steering wheel was standard with Limited, and a sapphire blue interior lighting setup was launched. Back-seat satellite TV was dropped. Premium navigation was standard on Limited, optional on Touring; it added dead reckoning, traffic, and voice recognition.
2012 Jeep lineup
- WK Jeep Grand Cherokee (likely unchanged from 2011, except for the addition of an SRT8 version)
- MK Jeep Patriot • Jeep Compass (essentially unchanged from 2011)
- JK Jeep Wrangler
- KK Jeep Liberty (possibly its final year in the current form)
Ram put its exclusive RamBox integrated storage system on both 5'7" and 6'4" beds, on regular and quad cab models. A new steering wheel was adopted, putting the cruise control onto the front, and a monochrome paint option was added to Outdoorsman and Longhorn (on the latter, replacing White Gold running boards with Mopar tubular side steps and polished wheels). A Longhorn Two-Tone was still available.
Ram gained new power folding trailer towing mirrors and chrome side mouldings. The ST lost its bright grille, reverting to black.
The Ram 1500 moved to a six speed automatic, similar to the old five speed. Engine choices continued from 2011.
Ram was the #3 selling vehicle in Canada in 2011, and buyers overwhelmingly got the 4x4 models; regular cabs accounted for just 5% of sales, with the rest roughly evenly split between Quad Cab and Crew Cab. Most 4x2 sales are restricted to the regular cab. Laramie and Longhorn Crew Cabs seem to have taken off in sales.
The Ram Heavy Duty was the #1 selling diesel in Canada for 2011, and it gained a torque boost to 800 lb-ft, providing best in class towing of 22,750 lb and a gross weight rating of 30,000 lb. For 2012, it could be ordered with the RamBox in all price classes, with lowered pricing; again, a six speed replaced the five speed (in this case there were two five speeds, 65RFE and 66RFE). Towing capacity was increased for the Hemi as well as the diesel, and midyear seat-mounted side airbags will become standard along with a black grille and bumpers on ST. Most Ram 2500 buyers opted for the crew cab and SLT or Outdoorsman; while most Ram 3500 buyers went for the Crew Cab and Laramie or Longhorn.
Chrysler-based Lancias were the Thema (300), Flavia (200), and Grand Voyager. Not Lancia Voyager — but Lancia Grand Voyager — though there was no base Voyager to be grander than. The primary visual difference was the grille, but under the hood sat a VM diesel engine. The Lancia Grand Voyager was available in three trim lines - Silver, Gold and Platinum. None sold especially well.
The street went both ways; Lancia Delta and Ypislon started as Chryslers in the UK and Ireland in 2011.
2012 Fiats and other rebadged cars
Chrysler built and sold an updated version of the Fiat 500 (FF) and the turbocharged Fiat 500 Abarth. For 2012, the Fiat 500 Convertible and Turbo (a lower-power version than Abarth) were launched. 2013 models were also shown in 2012: an electric car and the Fiat 500L, which was not actually based on the 500 chassis, along with an Abarth convertible.
Going in the other direction was the Fiat Freemont, a popular Dodge Journey variant for sale in Fiat-dominated lands. Engines were the Fiat 2.0 liter diesel (replacing the Volkswagen engine), a 2.4 liter World Engine, an “E22” version of the 2.4 liter World Engine, and the V6 — but only with AWD and an automatic. A manual shifter was sold with the diesel, as is an automatic, both with six speeds. An AWD Freemont was available but only with automatic; the 140 hp diesel was only sold with a manual. (Thanks, K. Oellinger for the updates.)
Hyundais sold by Chrysler in Mexico (and possibly parts of South America) were the Verna/Attitude, H100 truck, and Atos.
2012 Car Reviews
$1.7 billion in profits
Chrysler Group LLC reported preliminary net income of $1.7 billion for 2012, well over the prior year’s $183 million, on $65.8 billion in revenue.
Modified operating profit was $2.9 billion (4.4% of revenue). Free cash flow increased to $2.2 billion, yielding a cash hoard of $12 billion.
Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne said. “We pause for a moment to enjoy our accomplishments, but we will not stop. Our continued achievement relies upon maintaining a humble spirit and an intense focus on the integrity of our work. And so we press on.”
2012 Chrysler fleet and retail sales
Chrysler brands gained popularity among “real people;” from nearly half of U.S. sales being attributed to fleets, Chrysler dropped to 26% in 2012. Chrysler wrote that its market share of retail purchases rose to 10.2%, up from 9.4% in 2011, as its image rose among retail buyers. Chrysler 300 nearly doubled in retail sales, helped by praise from “consumer magazines,” and Fiat 500 more than doubled. Minivans, Grand Cherokee, and Chrysler 200 also saw steep retail gains.
Overall, Chrysler’s U.S. sales went up 13% overall, but retail sales (total sales minus fleet sales) rose 23%. The company’s overall market share rose to 11.2% despite the full-force re-entry of Toyota and Honda into the market. In Canada, overall market share was 14.2%, similar to 2011; retail-only market share was 12.7%, slightly down, despite a 5% increase in retail sales.
Chrysler’s transaction prices were similar in 2012 and 2011, but incentives rose somewhat in 2012. In 2011, incentives averaged $3,100 per car in three quarters ($2,900 in Q2); in 2012, incentives started at $3,100 in Quarter 1, but rose by $100 per quarter, each quarter, ending up at $3,400 in the fourth quarter. Chrysler attributed this to year-end sales events, most likely the need to push 2012 Ram 1500s out the door and make room for the 2013s, while dealing with high pickup incentives at GM and Ford.
Worldwide sales, Jeep record
With Chrysler and Lancia merged into a single unit in Europe, the two brands together sold 93,264 cars and minivans over the year, down from 103,157 in 2011. The biggest Lancia sellers are the Ypsilon and Delta, with Thema, Voyager, and Flavia occupying a minor role. Fiat Freemont outsold all the Chrysler-based Lancias combined, with room to spare.
Overall, sales gains for the Chrysler-based vehicles validated Sergio Marchionne’s strategy of rebranding Fiat Freemont, but was far less successful for the Chryslers. Admittedly in different sales climates, the Fiat Freemont exploded while the Lancias lost ground in 2011 and failed to entirely win it back in 2012. Dodge sales disappeared without a trace. As compensation, though, Jeep sales practically exploded when the brand was freed from Daimler distribution. (Thanks to Karl3 for the data.)
|All other Dodges||28||44||2,234||5,670*|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee||10,658||6,623||4,085||4,548|
* Mainly Nitro, followed by Avenger. Only 225 other Dodges after these.
Jeep had a decent year given the rough European economy; the brand was now handled entirely by Fiat, and most likely enjoyed some additional success by its now established separation from Daimler distribution. Europeans bought 28,263 Jeeps for 2012, a small number but much higher than the 23,742 sold in 2011. Overall, Jeep has a 0.2% share in Europe, putting it on par with Lexus and Jaguar. Chrysler, Lancia, and Jeep together had a lower market share than Jaguar Land Rover, Seat, Dacia, Chevrolet, or Mini alone. The upcoming B-Jeep, gas-mileage improvements for Grand Cherokee, and the upcoming Liberty/Cherokee should bolster Jeep’s position for 2013-14.
Jeep declared an all-time global sales record for 2012, with 702,000 vehicles sold across the world; the previous record was 675,000 vehicles sold, in 1999. 2012 Jeep sales were 19% higher than in 2011.
Jeep remained a primarily American brand, though, with 162,000 sales (77% of its total) within the core three nations.
Jeep remained Chrysler’s most internationally successful brand. Sales of Chrysler-built vehicles (including Journey/Freemont) through Fiat and Lancia were the second largest, with just 68,000 (rounded) non-NAFTA sales, followed by Dodge (30,000), Chrysler brand itself (11,000), and Ram (6,000). The increase in rebranded Chrysler car sales was due mainly to the success of the Fiat Freemont, which has sold well for its class in Europe and South America, even as more expensive Lancia-branded Chryslers (Flavia, Thema, Voyager) have languished.
2012 Chrysler sales figures
For 2012, Chrysler Group LLC today reported U.S. sales of 152,367 units, a 10% increase compared with sales in December 2011 (138,019 units), and the group’s best December sales since 2007. December was Chrysler’s 33rd consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains.
For 2012, Chrysler Group U.S. sales totaled 1,651,787 units, up 21% compared with 2011. Each brand recorded significant gains, and Jeep’s 13% sales increase pushed its global sales to an all-time record.
Seven Chrysler Group models set annual sales records in 2012. Reid Bigland, President and CEO – Dodge Brand and Head of U.S. Sales, wrote, “Looking back on 2012, we were again one of the fastest growing automakers in the country with total sales up 21%. We also recorded 33-consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth and our strongest annual sales in five years.” Dart sales were up 36% month-over-month in December, the compact car’s best monthly sales performance since it went on sale in June.
Chrysler Canada celebrated its 37th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth, the longest sales streak in its history. December 2012 sales were 14,756, just 1% higher than December 2011. For the full year, sales were 243,845, a 6% increase over 2011. Chrysler Canada boasts the best retail sales since 2000, and is again the second most popular Canadian automaker. Chrysler Canada passenger car sales more than doubled for the month, with an increase of 103% in December 2012 with 2,827 sales and 33% for the calendar year with 42,509 sales. Dodge Dart had its best sales month with 849 Dodge Darts sold, up 3% from November. Chrysler 200 set a monthly sales record for December 2012, with 614 sold. If one couples Dodge Avenger with Chrysler 200, Chrysler Canada was the number one seller of mid-size passenger cars in the country for 2012.
|Chrysler Cars and Trucks||Dec 2012||Dec 2011||Change||2012||2011||Change|
|Town & Country||9,258||9,619||-4%||111,744||94,320||18%|
|CHRYSLER BRAND TOTAL||25,513||23,974||6%||307,967||221,346||39%|
|JEEP BRAND TOTAL||39,871||43,577||-9%||474,131||419,349||13%|
|DODGE BRAND TOTAL||52,391||41,548||26%||524,989||451,040||16%|
|RAM BRAND TOTAL||30,885||26,595||16%||300,928||257,610||17%|
Allpar also underwent numerous changes for 2012, including addition of the Chrysler Literature archive (thanks to J.P. Joans), the addition of Jennifer Harrington to the “helper staff,” a new home page design with Ajax-driven “multiple-purpose areas,” and more home page automation behind the scenes. Standard sidebars were added and the headers and footers were redesigned. For the year, Allpar was visited by (according to Google Analytics) 10,265,848 people, who saw 36,823,024 pages.