Chrysler retail sales shot up 45% in December, for the best month’s retail sales in four years and the best total sales since May 2008. Chrysler’s US sales rose 26% in 2011 versus 2010, the best percentage sales gain of any full-line maker, gaining 1.3 points of market share.
December U.S. sales were 138,019, 37% higher than in December 2010 (100,702 units).
For the year, Chrysler Group sales totaled 1.37 million units, up 26% over 2010. Every brand posted solid sales gains during 2011.
December marked Chrysler Group’s 21st-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains and seventh-consecutive month of sales increases of at least 20 percent.
Jeep, Dodge, and Ram Truck each logged double-digit percentage sales gains in December, while FIAT posted a 44% increase compared with November.
Chrysler Group finished the month with a 64-day supply of inventory (326,087 units). U.S. industry sales figures for December are projected at an estimated 14 million SAAR.
Chrysler Brand: The Chrysler brand’s 83% increase, driven by surging sales of the Chrysler 300 and Chrysler 200 sedans, was the largest percentage sales gain of all the Chrysler Group brands. Sales of the 200 were up a robust 661% in December, compared with sales of its predecessor the same month a year ago, while the 300 turned in a 242% sales gain.
Jeep®: Sales were up 41% in December, its 20th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. The 2012 Jeep Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, and Compass all contributed. The Compass’ 1,035% sales gain was the largest of any Chrysler Group model in December. Wrangler set a new sales record for the month of December; the model’s seventh-consecutive monthly sales record this year. Grand Cherokee sales were up 36%, its best sales month since December 2005.
Dodge cars: Dodge posted a 28% sales increase in December. The 2012 Dodge Charger, America’s first domestic sport sedan to feature an eight-speed automatic transmission – delivering a best-in-class 31 mpg highway – led the brand with a 227% sales increase. Avenger and Journey each had double digit sales increases.
Ram: the heavy-volume brand posted a 10% sales increase in December with pickup sales rising 12%, based on rises in both light and heavy duty trucks. Ram pickup logged a solid 23% sales increase for the year.
Year to date, one can easily see that Chrysler 200 was a hit, more than doubling sales of the Sebring; its brand-mate, the Avenger, identically priced, did not do quite as well, though it gained 26% over 2010. The big 300 and Charger actually lost ground despite attractive redesigns and superior powertrains (the eight-speed automatic), perhaps due to reduced rebates and economy issues (Challenger rose 7% but did not make up for the shortfall in 300/Charger). The small car triplets, Compass/Patriot/Caliber, did better, with Compass trebling its sales, Patriot scoring a 41% boost, and only Caliber suffering. Journey rose a bit with the redesign, which probably had more impact on Fiat’s ability to sell it as the Freemont in other markets.
The important minivan segment did not fare well, with the high-priced Town & Country logging fewer than 100,000 sales and the Caravan posting 110,000 — staying roughly even in sales from 2010 as competitors continued to establish themselves as equals or leaders.
Even more important, Ram pickups, the volume leader, gained sales sharply, rising 23% for the year to over 240,000 sales. Wrangler continues to be the new star, with 122,000 sales, neatly beating any Chrysler vehicle other than Ram and Grand Cherokee. The original Grand Cherokee may have easily beaten the 2011’s sales every single year, 1993-1998, but 127,744 luxury-vehicle sales must have done wonders for Chrysler’s bottom line. The similar Durango chipped in with over 50,000 sales — add the two up and you nearly reach the Grand Cherokee’s glory days.
Liberty sales rose a bit, to 66,684 for the year, one third better than in 2010, but still nowhere near where it used to be or needs to be; Liberty is reportedly being replaced in the next calendar year. And, finally, Fiat 500 logged in with a bit under 20,000 sales, and a December number which would make estimates of 24,000 sales for 2012 seem like a reasonable starting point.
Of some note, the entire turnaround through December 2011 was accomplished without any Fiat technology (unless one counts the Fiat 500 itself).
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