Earlier this week, FCA announced that their new Chinese joint venture plant in Guangzhou had started making the Jeep Renegade. Yesterday, during the financial conference call, a company spokesman said that joint-venture Jeep Cherokee sales had already reached 9,000 per month, a hefty rate.
The Jeep Renegade is made in Italy, Brazil, and China, and some believe it will eventually be made in Mexico as well, alongside the Jeep Compass and a small Chrysler car. (The photo shows a Cherokee in a major Chinese facility.)
Update: Despite the success of the Cherokee and Jeep in general (up by 17%), total FCA sales in China were stable over the quarter.
Sergio Marchionne added:
We’ll start production of the Renegade… during the month of May on a full-blast basis. We are now running the plant in Changsha, which makes Fiat, but also makes the Cherokee… well above initial rates. We expect to sell probably in excess of 100,000 cars there this year.
General Motors’ cutbacks in fleet sales made the news when they let Ford edge past the giant to take the top sales spot in March.
Both GM and FCA want to cut back on fleet sales, which are often less profitable than retail. Ford, which has the highest percentage of fleet sales in the US, enjoys mostly higher-margin commercial and government sales; but FCA and GM have more of the less desirable, low-margin daily rental fleet sales.
Breakouts of fleet sales are hard to get; and breakouts of fleet sales by market are even harder. FCA treats its fleet numbers like they were the recipe for Coca-Cola Classic. Automotive News‘ Data Center provides monthly figures, but they are generally estimates, especially when it comes to FCA.
Automotive Fleet magazine, though, provided detailed fleet figures for the years 2006 to 2013. While they’re a bit out of date, they do give some insight into the quality of FCA’s fleet sales.
The numbers are the fleet registrations divided by total registrations (not sales), and were compiled by R.L. Polk and its successor/owner IHS Automotive. IHS declined requests for more current data; it’s their business to sell it.
This second chart shows just rental fleet registrations:
Chrysler mid-size sedans were, as most people already know, rental-fleet fodder. Between 2006 and 2013, rental companies accounted for more than half of all Dodge Avengers registered. At the other end of the scale, Jeeps and Rams enjoyed higher retail deliveries.
FCA started bolstering minivan figures with increased deliveries to rental fleets toward the end of this period.
FCA has done a good job since then, though. In 2015, Automotive News estimated that about 78% of all 2015 deliveries went to retail customers, well above the 2013 numbers; and it seems that higher-quality fleet sales have increased. The addition of two Ram vans and greater popularity of Ram pickups makes it likely that FCA’s commercial market share has been growing.
An FCA US spokesman wrote that FCA US had either the lowest fleet percentage of the major domestics, or was tied with one of them in each of the past four calendar years.
Part of that process has been pruning the product line — dropping the Dodge Avenger, for example. The company has chosen to prune the Dart and 200 rather than have them run as rental fodder, as well. This may be good for resale values, since having thousands of rentals depresses used-car prices. That would help make terms for company leases more attractive, too.
Jeep gained yet again in Europe, despite having climbed in March 2015 with the rise in Renegade sales. The division sold 10,650 units in the EU and EFTA countries, a gain of 14.5% over March 2015. Year to date, Jeep is 22.5% ahead.
Every FCA brand, in fact, gained in sales for the month, bringing FCA’s market share from 5.9% in March 2015 to 6.3% for March 2016, according to figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).
Moving to the more important year-to-date figures, Jeep’s 22.5% gain was the highest of any FCA brand by a large margin, but Fiat gained by a respectable 17%; Lancia/Chrysler by 12%; and Alfa Romeo by 7%. The “others” category rose by 3%, to 1,632 sales for the first quarter . Overall, the market improved by 8.2% in the first quarter, so Fiat, Jeep, and Lancia gained share and Alfa Romeo lost share. One reason for Fiat’s strength is that Italy posted the best growth (21%), far above #2 France (8%).
Jeep is far ahead of any “secondary” FCA brand, beating Lancia by over 6,500 sales in the quarter, and ahead of Alfa by over 10,000.
The results were good enough to earn FCA a 6.7% market share, half a point ahead of Q1 2015; Jeep’s market share ticked up from 0.6% to 0.7%. Volkswagen Group (VW, Audi, Skoda, SEAT, Porsche, and others) still dominates with a 23.4% share, but that’s a full point down from last year. PSA (Peugeot, Citroën, DS) came in at #2 with just 10%, and Renault is next at 9%. Then Ford and GM are relatively close at 7%, rounded off, followed by FCA. Asian companies have to wait for #9 on the list (Toyota).
On the “Final Assembly” page of this week’s print edition of Automotive News is a short piece that notes that FCA sold more light trucks last month than either Ford or General Motors.
By the published reports, this is true for the month. General Motors still maintains the lead for the year, but FCA is outselling Ford by both metrics.
In the uncredited piece, Automotive News attributes the results to creative accounting and the EPA’s loose definition of what constitutes a “light truck.” Their example is the Mini Countryman, which is considered a light truck, while the Mini Cooper is a car.
That would have been more of an issue in the days of the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Ford Taurus X, but there really aren’t any such cars in the Detroit automakers’ current lineups.
The true uncertainty is at the other end of the range. Ford’s monthly sales report includes heavy trucks – the F-650 and F-750 – which are discarded in most sales analyses, including the table above.
However, there is still room for a bit of fudging in the F-Series category. While it’s likely that the F-450 pickup is counted in “F-Series” total, as Ford claims it’s a Class 3 truck, does that tally also include the F-450 chassis-cab, which is a Class 4 truck, and the F-550?
FCA sales reports list only the Ram Pickup, but Allpar has been told that the Ram tally does include chassis-cabs, leaving the door open for the 4400 and 5500.
For now, the numbers reported are good enough. FCA is not only Number 1 in utilities; it’s Number 1 in light trucks as a whole, too.
Earlier, Allpar reported that FCA was the #1 seller of crossovers and SUVs in the first quarter of 2016. Let’s dig a little deeper, now.
The top selling crossovers and SUVs — CSUVs, so to speak — were not Dodges or Jeeps, but the Toyota RAV4 (76,122), Ford Escape (71,594), Honda CR-V (71,188), Nissan Rogue (69,036), Ford Explorer (63,415), Chevy Equinox (59,879), and GMC Sierra (51,131). Not a single FCA CSUV in the top ten “trucks.” (The top three were pickups — Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram, very much in that order.)
If, instead of the top ten, we look at the top 10% of light trucks, we get 13 vehicles — and the three new ones are all Jeeps, the Cherokee (19,170), the Grand Cherokee (18,506), and the Wrangler (17,710). Jeep’s top ten total came to 55,386 C/SUVs, followed by Ford (50,126) and Toyota (43,994).
If you add the Durango to the Grand Cherokee, you can fight the Explorer more effectively (66,635 combined sales to the Explorer’s 63,415). That said, one can see why the Renegade exists, and why the Compass is being replaced, when one looks at the leaders in the hot crossover segment — the RAV4, Escape, Rogue, and CR-V.
Perhaps Jeep will have entries there as well, once the new four-cylinders are under their hoods?
Once again, FCA sold more crossovers and SUVs than anyone else in the US, with over 100,000 sales in March. For the first quarter, FCA was 18,670 sales ahead of General Motors and 55,034 ahead of Ford. FCA got nearly 48% of its March sales from crossovers and SUVs.
Jeep remained the top SUV/crossover brand last month, beating Ford by 9,465 sales. Indeed, Jeep sold more utilities than General Motors (all brands combined), Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai-Kia, or Subaru. Jeep is, year to date, 21,497 sales ahead of the Ford brand.
The Ram pickup’s solid performance kept it at the No. 3 spot in overall sales behind the Ford F-series and Chevy Silverado.
Ford pulled off a nice coup in March, taking the top sales spot in both the U.S. and Canada, beating GM by just 963 units in the U.S., thanks to fleet sales, and beating FCA in Canada by just 585 sales. GM still holds the year to date title in the U.S., and FCA is still the leader in Canada.
Smaller cars took a big hit in March, but the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger hung in there. The Charger was #2 among the full-size, general-market cars and the Chrysler 300 was #3.
All this good news came with a price. TrueCar.com estimates FCA spent an average of $3,887 on incentives per vehicle, up 13.7% compared to last March. That’s still $56 less than GM and $929 less than BMW, the biggest spender, but it’s $616 more than Ford.
It’s been a long time since April 2010, but Chrysler Group / FCA has nailed six solid years of growth. For 72 months, the company has come through with year-over-year improvements. Subaru has reported 52 months of growth and Audi has posted 63 consecutive sales records, but FCA’s achievement has to be some kind of record, at least in modern times.
Minivans, long relegated to the backwaters in automotive sales, were the hottest US market segment in March.
Year-over-year sales rose more than 39%, with the Chrysler Town & County and Dodge Grand Caravan leading the way. The Town & Country’s 148% surge propelled it to the top for the month; the Caravan’s 117% jump made it the runner-up.
The Toyota Sienna still has the year-to-date lead, but by a razor-thin 817 units over the Grand Caravan and 2,913 over the Town & Country. Both FCA minivans are ahead of the Honda Odyssey in both monthly and year-to-date sales.
For the first quarter of 2016, minivan sales are up 35%.
Traditional vans were also hot in March, with deliveries up by 29%. Ford took 54% of total sales, but Ram’s ProMaster and ProMaster City combined to outsell both Nissan and Daimler (Mercedes and Freightliner). The full-size ProMaster outsold Daimler’s total all by itself.
FCA Canada logged their best sales month since the year 2000, selling 25,862 vehicles — 3% over March 2015. FCA Canada remains the top-selling automaker in the country through the first three months of the year. Minivans rose by 24%, Jeeps by 36%, led in volume by the Cherokee.
Sales in Mexico also climbed by 3%, rising to 7,940. Dodge sales rose by 16% to 2,505; Mitsubishi rose by 3% to 1,330; and Ram hit 2,017. Alfa Romeo’s best March ever amounted to 25 sales; Chrysler reported 200 sales; and Fiat, 691. (Dodge sales includes a rebadged Mitsubishi and a rebadged Fiat; Ram sales includes a rebadged Fiat.)
The Jeep Patriot managed to beat its successor in sales last month despite a 17% sales drop, logging 9,837 US sales vs Renegade’s 8,832. The comparison may be somewhat unfair, as some dealers said they were not getting ordered Renegades, and the latter is brought in from Italy while the Patriot is made in Illinois.
In any case, the Renegade easily beat the outgoing Compass, despite a huge 53% boost in Compass sales compared with March 2015. (There were practically no Renegades to be sold at that time so the latter’s 2,228% gain can be ignored.) This bodes well for the replacement-Compass, which will reportedly have much the same chassis as the Renegade but with mini-Grand-Cherokee styling.
Looking at the bigger Jeeps, the three-way sales race has been clearly won by the Cherokee, with 19,170 sales for the month — up just 1%. The Grand Cherokee hit the #2 spot with 18,506 sales, and Wrangler trailed at 17,710. The Wrangler may have the last laugh, though, with a production boost planned — and the most traditional Jeep will be kicking the Cherokee out of its factory and taking it over, most likely next year.
Jeep continues to be on a roll for 2016, with sales up by 17% year to date; the Compass has the biggest rise (up 43%) and lowest sales. The only other Jeep to lose sales year to date was the Wrangler, though only by 1%. The profit engine Grand Cherokee was up by 8%, and the Cherokee gained by 3%. So far, Jeep has sold 49,534 Jeep Cherokees in the US alone — a number larger than total Jeep sales in many of the Willys and Kaiser years.
FCA US, née Chrysler Group, knocked one out of the park, announcing March 2016 sales of 213,187 — up by 8% over the prior month, and the best March sales in over a decade. This makes six solid years of unbroken year-over-year U.S. sales gains for the company.
Jeep, Dodge, and Ram all posted gains, with Jeep shooting up by 15% on the heels of a report that the brand led the American market in conquest buyers.
March sales records were set by the Journey, Ram pickup, ProMaster, ProMaster City, Wrangler, Cherokee, Renegade, and Compass — the latter living on borrowed time as a replacement is prepared.
The greatest percentage-type sales gains, year to date, were from the Town & Country minivan — just recently heartily slammed by Consumer Reports — Caravan minivan, which nearly doubled in sales, and ProMaster van. Relatively new models showing sales gains due to limited availability in early 2015 were the Jeep Renegade and ProMaster City. Both minivans posted more than double their March 2015 sales last month, possibly due to publicity around their replacement, the Chrysler Pacifica.
There were losses, most notably in sales of the 200 (down 63%) and Dart (down 33%) — and, to greater extremes, in the land of Fiat, where the 500 and 500L each had less than half their March 2015 sales. Overall, with the Fiat 500X added in, the brand’s sales dropped by 24% for the month and 18% year to date.
The company finished the month with 82 days of stock. The complete sales table is:
Jeep’s sales growth remained strong in February, providing a 28th consecutive month of European sales growth. Registrations were 22% ahead of February 2015, in a market that rose by just 14%; still, the brand is tiny in Europe, with 7,781 Jeeps sold in a million-car market, and growth slowed from January.
Jeep was the only FCA brand to slip from January sales, albeit by just 19 cars and in a shorter month; year to date growth was 28%, higher than any other FCA brand. Beating March 2015’s sales may be tricky since they had spiked to 9,203.
The Renegade, one of the top-selling small crossovers in Europe, took over half of total Jeep sales, once again; and the sales figures show that Renegade is attracting new customers, not diverting old ones.
For the month, Lancia/Chrysler grew by 16%, Maserati/Dodge/Ram grew by 12% (to just 382), and Alfa Romeo by 9%. Jeep was the second best-selling FCA brand in Europe by a decent margin, after Fiat. FCA as a whole passed Ford and GM to be Europe’s #4 brand.
For the second consecutive month, FCA delivered more crossovers and SUVs than any other automaker. Allpar’s analysis of February U.S. light vehicle sales shows FCA beating No. 2 General Motors by 2,343 vehicles for the month and building its year-to-date lead to 3,951 units.
Jeep remains the top brand of utilities, finishing the month 3,212 sales ahead of second-place Ford, with a 12,032-sale lead for 2016 so far. By itself, Jeep delivered more utilities in February than Toyota Motor Sales (including Lexus); American Honda (including Acura) and Nissan North America (including Infiniti), just 2,100 fewer than the combined sales of Ford and Lincoln.
According to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Jeep sales in Europe rose nearly 48% in February. The Renegade was only behind the Fiat 500X in the small SUV segment.
The Dodge Grand Caravan was the best-selling minivan last month, and just 1,746 sales behind the Toyota Sienna in year to date totals. The Town & Country was No. 3. Minivan sales were up 27% in February and took an additional half-point of market share compared to February 2015.
There was good news in the commercial van segment, too. Ford claimed 53% of total commercial van sales, but the Ram ProMaster outsold every full-size van that didn’t have a blue oval or bow tie on the grille and the ProMaster City was second only to the Ford Transit Connect among small vans. Total Ram van deliveries soared 76% last month, easily outpacing Nissan and Mercedes-Benz.
The Ram pickup’s big jump in February left it just 4,581 sales behind the Chevrolet Silverado. The Ram pickup ranked third in both February and year to date total market rankings.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said the focus would be on light trucks and that was certainly the case last month. Utilities, pickups and vans accounted for 82% of total FCA sales, up from 72% in February 2015. Jeep and Dodge crossovers and SUVs claimed 46% of total deliveries.
FCA remained the top automaker in Canada, but by a razor-thin margin. Just 424 sales separated FCA Canada from Ford of Canada last month as Ford’s total jumped more than 24% compared to a 0.5% increase at FCA. FCA still has a 1,943-sale lead in 2016 results.
Canadian sales were stable, with a 0.54% increase over February 2015 — rising by 102 cars to 18,813. Jeep and Ram had double-digit year to year increases; Ram was a major sales engine with 7,550 sales for the month, greater than all FCA Mexico sales combined for the month. Jeep rose to 5,724 sales, over a third of which were Cherokees.
The 102-car increase was enough for FCA Canada to log yet another month of growth, though in 2015 and 2016, that growth has been tiny — admittedly enough to gain FCA the “best selling automaker in Canada” title for 2015 and for February 2016.
FCA México sold 7,422 cars and trucks in February, with Alfa Romeo joyously celebrating its best sales month ever — after selling 31 cars (with three models available). Other brand-total sales were 2,302 for Dodge, 1,681 for Ram, 1,262 for Mitsubishi, 1,270 for Jeep, 694 for Fiat, 182 for Chrysler.
FCA hit its 71st consecutive month of sales gains in February, reaching 182,879 cars and light trucks — up 12% from last year, and the best February in 10 years. Year-to-date (YTD) sales are 10% ahead of the first two months of 2015.
FCA’s increase of 12% falls between Ford’s 20% surge and GM’s 1.5% drop, and is slightly better than Nissan’s 10.5% gain. Toyota and Honda have not yet reported in.
Year to date, FCA still leads the domestics with 9.5% growth, vs Ford’s 8.8% gain and GM’s slight loss of 0.6%.
Jeep continued as FCA’s top-selling brand, and, along with Dodge and Ram, had double-digit growth. Ram pickup sales were 23% ahead of last year, a welcome change from the tepid growth seen in recent months.
Dodge’s 12% bump was driven by a huge increase in year-over-year sales of the Grand Caravan (last year, the Windsor Assembly Plant was shut down for upgrades) and a 22% gain from the Durango. Chrysler sales fell 23% as sales of the 200 nosedived with the loss of high incentives, wiping out gains posted by the Chrysler 300 and Town & Country.
New February records were set by the Jeep Cherokee, Wrangler, Patriot, and Compass, by the Ram pickup, ProMaster, and ProMaster City, and the Dodge Challenger and Journey.
Total car sales fell 27%, as the market shifts to crossovers and SUVs. Utility sales rose by a healthy 23% and total “light truck” sales increased by 27%.
FCA US finished the month with 673,494 cars and trucks in inventory, an 88-day supply.
European Jeep sales climbed 33% in January, to 7,836 registrations, according to the ACEA. The brand’s market share rose by 125%, to 0.7% of the total market.
As has been the case almost since its introduction, the Renegade dominated deliveries, with nearly 5,800 Renegades registered last month — greater than total Jeep sales in January 2015.
The Renegade is among the top ten in its segment, with a 6.1% segment share.
Unlike most months in 2015, Jeep wasn’t the top growth brand last month, falling to fifth place after Jaguar, Honda, Land Rover, and Mazda — all relatively small brands for Europe.
Fiat gained share, with Fiat, Lancia, and Alfa Romeo all posting gains; dealers have gotten about 15,000 orders for the new Tipo.
Alarm bells may be ringing in the industry as major automakers turned to fleet sales in January, trying to combat retail sales drops.
General Motors stood out as the only Top Seven automaker to gain in retail sales, according to Automotive News. Their retail sales boost of 9% stood in contrasts to losses from 2% (Honda, FCA US) to 12% (Ford). Even the mighty Toyota lost 9% in retail.
At the same time, GM slashed its fleet sales by 23% from January 2015. In contrast, Ford and Nissan boosted fleets by 20%, Toyota by 31%, FCA by 38%, and Hyundai by a whopping 44%.
Not all fleet sales are bad, and Ford has the pick of the litter with its commercial vans and pickups doing well. FCA’s gain is hard to interpret, as some of it could be increased popularity of the Ram lines; but FCA’s percentage of fleet sales rose from 22% in January 2015 to 27% last month, the most of any automaker other than Ford (34%). Former fleet queen GM was the lowest domestic (20%) while Nissan was the highest import (24%), likely with the Versa taking on rental fleets.
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