Chrysler Group sale rose again in January, though this time, instead of leading the pack, Chrysler was in the middle of the Detroit 3 automakers, thanks to a 21.3% surge in Ford sales for the month. Toyota’s gain was even larger, at 26.6%. Chrysler’s 16.4% gain easily outdistanced Honda’s 12.8% and it kept Chrysler with a firm grip on fourth place among the major automakers. General Motors sales were up 15.9% as it maintained the top spot.
Toyota is pushing hard on Ford for second place. At the end of the month, the top Japanese automaker was just 8,138 sales behind the blue oval.
With double-digit improvements from all three companies, the Detroit share of the market rose in January, hitting 45.8% of total light vehicle sales.
Passenger cars were the growth drivers for Chrysler in January: Car sales accounted for 36.8% of all Chrysler group sales, down from December’s 42.3% but well ahead of the 28.5% from last January. The Dodge Avenger rocketed from 51st to 28th in the overall rankings and was one of the top 20 car models.
Dodge was the hot division in January. In addition to the Avenger’s success, the Journey posted a 93.5% leap, jumping from 66th in the standings a year ago to 38th last month. The Dart continues to outsell its fellow newbies from 2012 and was among the top 20% of light vehicles by sales in January.
While it had the big winners, Dodge also had the big loser in January: the Dodge Grand Caravan. After a big December, Caravan sales went right off a cliff, falling 64.9% in a month. Even compared to last January, sales were down 38.7% as the Caravan finished fourth in the minivan segment, behind the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Town & Country.
Chrysler continues to be the best-selling American upscale brand and the 300 remains the top premium sedan from the Detroit automakers. With General Motors planning to move Buick upscale, it would be nice to see the folks in Auburn Hills build and expand on what they have.
Jeep’s stumble was entirely due to the retirement of the Liberty. Factoring out the Liberty, Jeep brand sales would have been in the black by 13.7% led by 30-plus-percent advances in sales of the Belvidere duo, the Compass and Patriot. Grand Cherokee sales were soft in January, but the same was true in January 2012 when the Grand Cherokee ended the month in the red.
Fiat continues to be a credible player in the small car market, again beating the Mini Cooper’s car models, Toyota’s Scion Line and the Mazda2. The new 500L looks good and should be a major boost for Fiat brand sales when it arrives. With a good dealer base in place, the L should be spared some of the growing pains the Cinquecento experienced during its introduction to the U.S. market.
The Ram pickup’s drop from eighth to ninth in the rankings was due to a 75.2% surge in sales of the Honda Accord, which went from 16th to fourth in the standings. Other small drops, such as the Grand Cherokee’s four-spot decline, were also driven by a lot of changes in the pecking order, especially at the top.
Update posted to corrected Dodge Grand Caravan results. The earlier report incorrectly stated the Caravan finished fifth in the minivan segment after being outsold by the Mazda CX-5. The correct comparison is with the Mazda5, which was outsold by the Dodge.
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