The Renegade was the key to double-digit growth for the Jeep brand in Europe in July and August, according to European automaker group ACEA.
The Renegade accounted for more than 62% of Jeeps registered during July and August. [Due to summer holidays the ACEA does not report July registrations separately.]
In year-to-date (YTD) numbers, nearly three of every four new Jeeps registered in Europe this year was a Renegade.
Jeep sales rose 13% in July, to 8,279, and soared 30% in August, typically a slow month in Europe, with 6,313. Year to date numbers were 22% ahead of the first eight months of 2015.
Through the end of August, FCA led GM in European deliveries, and had the strongest growth of any of the major players.
FCA US sales chief Reid Bigland is now a key target in the government’s investigation of the company’s sales figures, according to Bloomberg News. The Justice Department is reportedly trying to find out how much Mr. Bigland knew about FCA’s sales reporting inaccuracies, as the executive who signed key Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents on behalf of the company.
Reid Bigland is also the head of the Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands, which are key to FCA’s future. The company has spent billions to revive both brands; Alfa Romeo and Dodge will standardize on common engineering in future cars.
FCA has been accused of encouraging dealers to report bogus sales, to preserve its “winning streak.” The sales mis-reporting does not appear to have extended to financials, but could give investors (and car buyers) a misleading view of FCA’s success.
Automotive News sources claimed that dealers could be contacted and told that the “Department of Unnatural Acts” was “open for business,” if they needed to pad their sales. The industry weekly also wrote that their dealer sources said they had been told to make false sales, with the names of salesmen and their relatives on the paperwork. [Full story]
FCA’s chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, has said publicly that the sales reporting system was an inheritance from the old Chrysler Corporation, and that its maladies dated back to the 1980s. This does not address the allegations listed by Automotive News.
Mr. Bigland is being personally examined as a matter of Justice Department policy, established due to complaints that executives were not being held accountable for wrongdoing they condoned or ignored.
Bloomberg reported that Mr. Bigland, FCA, and the Justice Department all declined to comment.
While industrywide sales dipped a bit in August, there was some good news, especially for Mopar fans.
Fiat Chrysler was the only one of the Detroit automakers to beat its August 2015 numbers. In fact, FCA was the only major car company to advance. Ford sales swooned last month as the folks in Dearborn reported their largest drop in several years. General Motors continues to trade volume for profit by cutting fleet sales and is now 4.2% behind in year-to-date deliveries.
Jeep remained the best-selling utility brand. In fact, August Jeep sales came within 690 units of equaling GM’s total utility deliveries.
The Cherokee was fifth out of 104 crossovers and SUVs with sales reported for August. The Grand Cherokee was seventh and the Wrangler was tenth.
Jeep is the #6 brand by sales volume but every brand ahead of it has passenger cars, vans, and pickups. Jeep does it all with crossovers and SUVs.
Ram pickup sales were down slightly, but that’s actually not too bad. Sales of full-size pickups dropped 5.6% last month, and the Ram’s 0.3% deficit was the smallest of the bunch. For the first eight months of 2016, the Ram is second only to the Ford F-series in sales gains.
Ram ProMaster vans had a good month. August sales rose 25.4% and year-to-date (YTD) turnover is up 52.5%, the largest increase of any commercial van line. The ProMasters are now ahead of Mercedes-Benz and Nissan in both monthly and YTD sales.
Success in commercial van sales may not sound like much; they only account for about 2.5% of total light vehicle sales. However, vans made up August’s fastest-growing market segment.
The Dodge Grand Caravan was the best-selling minivan last month, beating the Toyota Sienna by 290 units. The Grand Caravan has the lead for the year by a slightly more comfortable margin. FCA minivans took a 42.2% piece of the total minivan pie last month.
FCA cars don’t get much respect, but Dodge was the third-best-selling American car brand in August and Chrysler had more car sales than Cadillac or Lincoln. The Charger was the best-selling full-size sedan and the Challenger was just 342 sales behind the Camaro.
The Chrysler 300 was 409 deliveries behind the Chevy Impala and ahead of every car from Buick, Cadillac and Lincoln.
Now the not-so-good news:
FCA had the highest percentage of fleet sales with 23.7% of total volume going to mostly daily rental fleets. Ford saw its fleet share drop 10% to 21.5% and GM said that just 17% of its turnover went to fleets.
FCA saw the second-largest jump in estimated average transaction prices (ATP). FCA’s August ATP was $35,455, up 3.4% from last August. That should be good news but incentives took a big bite out of that, climbing 15.6% to an estimated $4,146. Incentives accounted for about 12.5% of the average transaction price last month.
High fleet sales and big spending on incentives are both going to eat away at the margins that FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to increase. When supplies of the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart run out, that should help the bottom line somewhat but the new products that Marchionne has delayed would help even more.
When Automotive News presented its list of winners and losers for August, FCA didn’t have a brand in the winners column. It did, however, have four of the five biggest losers. Alfa Romeo led the list, with Maserati coming in third, Chrysler fourth and Fiat fifth.
Had the Automotive News list been a bit longer, Jeep would have been on it. Jeep was seventh in August sales growth.
Note: FCA issued a revised sales chart to to correct errors in the year-to-date entries. The revised chart can be found in Dave Zatz’s article on August sales.
[Allpar analysis based on data compiled from manufacturer reports.]
FCA US sales for August went up by 3% over August 2015, with 196,756 cars and trucks changing hands, a surprising spot of good news when other automakers are announcing losses (Ford down 9%, GM down 5%).
Around three quarters (76%) of sales went to retail buyers, with fleets taking up the rest — 150,153 sold at retail and 46,603 to fleets.
Every brand but Chrysler and Fiat had year over year gains; Jeep, with a 12% gain, saw five of six of its SUVs gaining (the Cherokee, by 41%). Dodge went up by 5%, with Charger soaring by 24%. At Ram, the ProMaster City was the highlight, with a 32% gain.
Chrysler sales fell 22% in August with supports for 200 sales removed — but the 300 was up by 22%, and the Pacifica had a respectable 7,459 sales. Fiat continued its fall with a 21% decline; the new Fiat 124 had 460 sales.
Note: figures in the current year to date section of the table have been updated due to an FCA error.
The sales-reporting gaffe at FCA led to their release of retail and fleet sales for the United States, which fills in some gaps in our knowledge and affirms the accuracy of outside estimates.
FCA US sold 72% of its cars at retail in 2011, reportedly well above the percentages of the late Daimler and Cerberus years. Retail sales improved steadily, hitting 78% in 2013-14 and 77% in 2015 (retail sales rose in 2015, but fleet sales rose more quickly).
In 2016, the retail percentage dropped to 73% (through July 31), partly because FCA US tripled its sales to government fleets in May, led by the Ram 1500, ProMaster, Charger, Grand Caravan, and 200.
Automotive News estimates were close to the target — no more than one point off from 2012 to 2015, and just two points off in 2011 (70% vs 72%).
For the year to date, the “winners and losers” are somewhat different from the US numbers. The 200 is down just 38%, and the Dart by 57%.
Over at Jeep, the Renegade is not as much of a hit in Canada, with 2,630 sold — less than the Patriot (5,468) and Compass (3,175). The Renegade actually lost ground in July, dropping from 315 to 276 sales (down 12%).
Year to date, the “change winners” for Jeep were the Compass (up 46%) and Grand Cherokee (up 40%), but the Cherokee put in a respectable 17% gain. The addition of the Renegade appears to have taken some sales from the similar-form-factor Patriot (down 14%) and added some new customers. Overall, though, the Jeep Cherokee looks like the runaway Canadian success, coming from nowhere to nab 19,712 sales (up 17% over YTD 2015), easily, easily beating the prior champs, Wrangler (12,472) and Grand Cherokee (9,726).
At Chrysler, there was no good news year to date, though in July the 300’s 155 sales easily clobbered last July’s pitiful 32. Year to date, the 200 was the most popular Chrysler with 4,490 sales; FCA Canada may well end up rebadging the Pacifica as a Dodge someday. There were under 3,000 C-300 sales, and under 2,700 Town & Country sales. The brand as a whole was down by 31%.
At Dodge, sales were up by 4% thanks largely to the Caravan’s regained strength; with 32,773 sales, up by 26% YTD, it was both a volume and sales-gain winner. Indeed, the second best Dodge was the Journey, with just 9,617 sales (down by 32% — it looks as though Journey buyers are moving to Caravans). The next most popular Dodge is the Durango, with 4,288 sales — a strong 81% gain, YTD, though the momentum fell in July. then we’re in the under-3,000 rang with the Charger and Challenger, and just 938 Darts.
Ram had a 2% YTD gain in pickups despite a 15% drop in July; so far in 2016, they sold 57,295 pickups and around 2,700 vans. Both ProMasters easily outpaced last year’s Cargo Van sales.
Fiat lost more than half its 2015 sales, and those weren’t impressive; just 1,451 Fiats were purchased by Canadians from January through the end of July.
FCA Canada reported sales of 24,669 cars and trucks, down 14% from July 2015. Year to date sales are up by just 1.2%, at 178,066.
According to whole-market data from Desrosiers, FCA finished July 923 sales behind Ford but still holds the lead in year-to-date deliveries.
Retail sales were 20,886 — 85% of total sales — and down 16%, in July. Fleet sales (3,783) rose by 2%.
Jeep sales were 53,183 year to date, saving FCA Canada from a YTD shortfall. The Canadian-built large cars all rose in sales — 300 rising 384%, Challenger up 67%, and Charger up 111%.
Canada’s best-selling minivan, Dodge Grand Caravan, held its position with 4,964 sales, up 6% over one year ago. The Pacifica is off to a slow start, though, with 272 sold.
July 2016 numbers were calculated in a new way, which is different from the US system because the computer does not allow Canadian dealers to record “unwinds” (essentially, cancelled sales) automatically. Fleet sales are, however, now only recorded when the vehicle is shipped to the customer or end user. Using the new figures, July 2015 numbers were marked down from 26,928 as previously reported, to 28,534; a spokesman said the company was still in the process of verifying numbers for other past months.
July was a rough month for some cars and a good month for others. The soon-to-be-dropped Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart continued their plunge, with the 200 sinking by 64% and Dart falling by 42%. The 200 could be sustainable at its current 66,000 sales per year (annualized from July) but the Dart would be marginal at 40,000. The 200’s drop was actually less severe than it had been — year to date, it’s down by 64%.
The Town & Country, naturally, fell by 49%, exactly matching Dart sales at 3,341. The new Chrysler Pacifica, with cash already slammed down on the hood, hit 7,911 sales, but the real winner for the month was probably the Dodge Caravan with an amazing 10,055 sales — possibly as customer snap up the bargains.
The only other major loser for the month was the Dodge Journey, which dropped by 31%. One year ago, minivans will still short on the ground, and it’s possible some buyers chose the Journey instead. Its sales were still respectable, at 6,376, and it’s down just 13% for the year.
The king of Jeep was the Wrangler this month, at 18,741, — and that was down 5.5% from last July. The Grand Cherokee was up by 3% but that was only good for #2. July is a Wrangler month. (Year to date, the Wrangler also has the top spot, at 119,042, followed around 3,000 units later by Grand Cherokee and Cherokee.)
Winners abounded as well, aside from the Caravan. Chrysler and Dodge may have fallen by 4% and 10%, respectively, but Jeep and Ram were both up. At Jeep, the Renegade gets full marks, rocketing up by 57% to 10,057 sales — beating Caravan by two, and easily outselling any other Dodge or Chrysler, the Renegade was still the second worst selling Jeep! The Patriot rose by 11%, too, hitting 11,288 sales.
Finally, we have Ram, where the core pickups went up by 2% (6% for the year to date), hitting 39,827, more than double the sales of any other vehicle (in fairness, Ram pickups include two and four doors, in three capacity ranges, with special models, and three series of chassis cabs). It was also a good month for the ProMaster Van — up 41%, consistent with year-to-date numbers — and for ProMaster City, which nearly doubled its July 2015 sales. Sales of commercial vans remain minor for FCA US, with both lines combined selling well under 5,000 units, but it’s still going in the right direction.
Fiat was the usual disaster areas; but the company moved 480 Fiat 124 Spiders, (more than double the number of 500Ls), and the 500X at least remained stable. The net result was a gain of 0.3%, and a year to date gain of 4.4%. See the sales charts.
When FCA released its July sales figures yesterday, some sources weren’t paying attention.
At least one major industry data source reported that FCA sales rose by 1.5% in July, rather than by 0.3%, because they used the July 2015 numbers released last year rather than the “new system” figures.
Allpar has confirmed that the July 2015 totals in yesterday’s report are correct; in the new system, July 2015’s sales were 2,097 vehicles higher than originally reported.
Revised Ram sales added 3,864 trucks to the tally; FCA found an additional 2,243 deliveries and Dodge sales increased by 1,843 units for a total of 7,950 cars and light trucks not reported last year.
Most of those extra sales were wiped out by the 5,815 fewer Chrysler brand sales; last year’s sales release included 5,582 Chrysler 200s that weren’t actually delivered.
There was one extra Alfa Romeo 4C sold, but 19 fewer Fiat 500Cs and 20 fewer Fiat 500Xs for a net Fiat brands correction of 38 units.
A large-scale revision of past sales is rare, but original sales figures are often corrected by the time the following year’s results are released. There are a variety of reasons for the revisions, including the fact that sales releases are prepared rapidly, usually the day after the sales month closes.
FCA US sales for July 2016 (and January-July) are:
FCA July sales rose 0.3% to 180,727 units. For the first time, the company broke out retail and fleet sales. Retail sales totaled 155,885 vehicles, a drop of 2%, as fleet sales rose to 24,842 cars and trucks, 22% higher than in July 2015. Fleet sales made up 14% of total FCA turnover in July.
Sales of Chrysler brands rose 0.6%, led by a 5.0% increase in Jeep deliveries and a 4.9% gain in Ram sales. Sales of Alfa Romeo and Fiat fell 13.8%.
Minivan sales rose nearly 48% as the new Pacifica, Town & Country and Grand Caravan brought in a combined 21,307 sales. The Toyota Sienna was the top-selling minivan last month, followed by the Honda Odyssey. The Grand Caravan came in third but still has the lead in year-to-date sales.
The ProMaster City delivered the biggest jump in sales, coming in about 87% ahead of last year. FCA reported that Jeep Renegade deliveries rose 57% and sales of the larger ProMaster van were up 41%.
The Jeep Wrangler remained FCA’s most popular utility model in July as Jeep racked up another month as the best-selling brand of SUV in the U.S. Unfortunately, General Motors sold more total utilities than FCA for the month, thanks to a 7% increase, but FCA still has the lead for the year.
FCA was the only one of the Detroit 3 automakers to report total sales growth in July. Ford sales were down 2.8% while GM’s fell 1.9%.
For the by-model sales figures, see “FCA by the numbers.”
Updated to add competitive information.
FCA, after reviewing its reported sales numbers, set up a new method of sales accounting to “clarify” monthly results. Under the new system, the company wrote that its streak of year-over-year sales increases ended in September 2013, when sales fell by 3% — making the streak just 41 months, rather than 75 and counting.
Sales also declined in August 2015 (off 1%) and May (down 7%) by the new method, which, among other things, does not count fleet sales until deliveries are made.
The total adjustment to the period from January 2011 to June 2016 was about 19,000 vehicles out of 7.7 million, which works out to an 0.2% error. The new method will be used going forward.
Sales reporting has changed by up to 15,000 vehicles in any particular year from 2011-16. The net, regardless, is 1.4 million in 2011; 1.6 million in 2012; 1.8 million in 2013; 2.1 million in 2014; and 2.3 million in 2015.
Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette reports that two unnamed sources inside FCA confirm that dealers did inflate sales numbers.
Vellequette’s sources cited a mid-2015 internal investigation that showed 5,000-6,000 sales that were reported but for which the was no actual buyer. Dealers would unwind the sales after their monthly reports had gone in.
When the results of the investigation were reported, one of the sources say that Reid Bigland, head of North American sales, ordered the practice to be ended. The same source told Mr. Vellequette that dealer complaints had reached the desk of FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne before Mr. Bigland’s actions, and that pressure on FCA field managers to maintain growth has caused the practice to resume.
If accurate, this report calls into question FCA’s streak of year-over-year sales gains, which currently stands at 75 months. It is the longest streak for any active automaker.
While the sources did not say how long a period the investigation covered, there was only one month between January and June where that quantity of sales would have made a difference in FCA’s streak. That was March 2015, when the year-over-year improvement was just 3,346 vehicles, a gain of 1.7%.
From January 2015 to June 2016, the average monthly increase was 12,410 vehicles, based on Allpar data. Aside from March 2015, there have been just three other months where the margin was less than 6,000 sales, the most recent being May 2016.
The sources attribute the inflated numbers to dealers under pressure from regional FCA sales managers who are eager to keep the streak going. Two dealers (in the same dealership group) have already filed a lawsuit over alleged prodding by FCA field personnel, but FCA has moved to have the case dismissed saying the claims are groundless.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice are currently investigating FCA’s sales reporting. The agencies have visited FCA’s U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills and regional sales offices, and have spoken with current and former FCA employees.
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association reported registrations of 9,883 new Jeeps in June, fifteen cars closer to the 10,000 mark than in May and 16% ahead of June 2015 sales. Year-to-date registrations rose by nearly 23%, to 55,171 vehicles.
Jeep sales were up in all major markets, shooting up by 61% in the United Kingdom. Sales also grew by 26% in Germany and 20% in Italy.
Jeep Renegade sales were up nearly 30%, to over 7,000 units, keeping its place as one of the top ten compact utilities in Europe and making it the clear driver of Jeep’s growth on the continent.
FCA saw a 13% rise in registrations in June, outpacing the industry’s 7% growth. Alfa Romeo, whose Giulia is now on sale throughout Europe, was up by 23%, to 6,690. The core Fiat brand grew by 14% and retained leadership in the A (smallest-car) segment; the 500L, which FCA US couldn’t give away with green stamps in the US, is the the best-selling small MPV in Europe, with a market share of nearly 30%.
The 500X is now one of the top four compact utilities in Europe. Combined with the Renegade, sales of the Melfi twins totaled more than 18,000 in June.
Maserati sales were up 8% in June but still trail 2015 in year-to-date numbers. Lancia was the sole loser in the lineup, with registrations down more than 9%.
FCA finished third in the June light truck sales race. It’s a letdown from the past couple of months, but some perspective is needed.
Last June, General Motors sold 37,307 more crossovers, SUVs, vans and pickups than FCA. This year, FCA slashed that margin by more than 90%, to 3,640. The gap between FCA and Ford was cut 84%, going from 7,956 to 1,245.
For the first half of the year, FCA light truck sales grew more than 20% while Ford’s growth was just over half that, at 11%. FCA leads Ford in total light truck deliveries for the first six months of 2016. GM remains the overall leader but its January-June truck sales were actually down more than 2%.
While it had to settle for third place in total truck sales, FCA dominated in utilities and minivans
In the key utility segment, FCA reigned supreme last month. Jeep finished June 8,414 sales ahead of Ford and Lincoln’s combined SUV sales, and just 2,426 sales behind the GM’s four brands. Adding in the Dodge Durango, Dodge Journey, and Fiat 500X, FCA utility sales came in 15,012 ahead of GM, and 25,852 ahead of Ford.
As of the end of June, FCA is 65,494 sales ahead of GM and 131,229 in front of Ford in total utility sales.
The Wrangler’s record month jumped it to fifth out of 105 crossovers and SUVs; the only American-badged utility to beat the Wrangler’s numbers was the Ford Escape. Jeep, as a whole, is the sixth-best-selling brand in the U.S., and the top all-truck brand.
It may be a matter of time before crossovers and SUVs become the dominant industry segment. Last month, traditional cars dropped below 40% of the market for the first time in memory. The car share was 39.4%; the crossover/SUV share was 39.2%. The margin between the two segments was just 3,332 vehicles.
The Chrysler Pacifica, Town & Country, and the Dodge Grand Caravan accounted for 46% of total minivan sales in June. Number One is a good place to be right now: minivans had the highest growth of any major segment. The Caravan led the segment.
While combined U.S. sales of the Pacifica and Town & Country were slightly higher than the Caravan’s, in Canada, the Caravan beat the combined sales of the two Chrysler-brand minivans by a margin of 22 to 1.
While FCA is moving the metal, it’s paying a hefty price. According to estimates from TrueCar.com, FCA had the highest incentives of any major automaker last month, averaging over $4,000 per sale. GM wasn’t far behind, and Ford upped its incentives by 35%.
European Jeep registration came within 132 units of hitting the 10,000 mark in May, reaching 9,868 — up 30% from May 2015. Registrations were up in all primary EU countries — France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
Year to date, 45,268 new Jeeps have been registered in the EU, 24% more than in the first five months of 2015.
Around three quarters of these Jeeps are the new Renegade, whose sales shot up by nearly 53%. Combined with its Fiat clone, the 500X, the Melfi twins brought in more than 18% of total FCA deliveries.
FCA sales rose by more than 25%, outpacing Europe’s 16% growth. The Fiat brand rose by around 27%, to 74,519 in May; Lancia burst forward with a rise of nearly 32%. Alfa Romeo came up 59 cars short, a 1% decline with 5,522 deliveries, while Maserati was about even with 559, down from 562.
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