The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is making its mark. The limited edition muscle car accounted for 9% of all Challenger sales so far in the 2015 model year. Considering that the Hellcat’s base price is $14,000 higher than the Challenger SRT 392 and $28,500 more than the Challenger R/T with the 5.7-liter HEMI, nine percent is quite an achievement.
Plummeting gas prices may be having an effect on sales of the HEMI V8s. In the 2014 model year, the SXT with the Pentastar V6 accounted for 53% of all Challenger sales. So far in the 2015 model year, that percentage has dropped to 38% while the R/T (including the R/T Scat Pack) has become the best-selling trim line.
The greater customer preference for Hemi V8s is no doubt satisfying to the factory workers and production coordinators, given the popularity of the Jeep Cherokee and Wrangler, which use the same powerplant (along with the 200, minivans, Rams, 300, Charger, and ProMaster).
Il Sole 24 Ore and Bloomberg News reported that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles delivered 4.75 million new vehicles last year, an increase of 7% over 2013.
Driven by sales of Chrysler brands Jeep and Ram, FCA’s growth outpaced Toyota (up 3%), Volkswagen (up 4%), and General Motors (up 2%).
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne’s commitment to seven million sales worldwide by 2018 is on track, especially if the new Jeep Renegade can deliver strong results in Latin America and China. The Renegade is quickly becoming Europe’s favorite Jeep model and it will soon be on sale in North America, at lower prices than competitors.
The 500X goes on sale in Italy at the beginning of next week, and will be sold in 100 countries, with local manufacturing expected in Brazil and China.
According to Il Sole 24 Ore, results from the four FCA regions break down as follows:
EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa, Russia): 886,100, up 1%
NAFTA (USA, Canada, Mexico): 2,457,000, up 14%
LATAM (Latin America): 830,000, down 11%
APAC (Asia Pacific): 26,000
FCA did well in India, where sales increased 41%, Australia, with 35% growth, and Japan, up 10%. Russian deliveries rose 23% and China posted 41% growth. The news wasn’t so good out of Turkey, down 9%, Mexico with sales falling 12% (as rebadged Hyundais were dropped) and Argentina, where sales plummeted 19%.
Bloomberg quoted Morningstar analyst Richard Hilgert, who warned last year’s rate of growth might be difficult to maintain. Despite Hilbert’s skepticism, growth in North America is expected to continue, as is the recovery in Europe. Additional overall growth is expected in the APAC region, although Latin America is still questionable. FCA’s share may increase regardless of local conditions as more vehicles, particularly Jeeps, are added to the lines.
European Jeep sales skyrocketed 189.7% in December to 6,603 new registrations, bringing the year’s total to 41,378, an increase of 69.6% over 2013.
The Grand Cherokee was the best selling Jeep for the year with 14,800 registrations, up 23.8% over 2013. The Grand Cherokee accounted for 35.8% of the brand’s European sales and 1.9% of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles full-year sales.
The new Renegade is already one of the top ten vehicles in its market segment and has a 5% segment share.
Full-year sales of Jeep vehicles grew in nearly all European markets, including 109.7% growth in France, 49.5% in Germany, 94.5% in Italy, 75.4% in the UK and 33.7% in Spain.
FCA reported December deliveries of 55,863 vehicles, 7.2% more than in December 2013. Full-year sales rose to 767,856 vehicles, 3.5% ahead of the prior year.
Sales of the Fiat 500 increased 12.75% to more than 183,000 vehicles. Panda registrations grew 14.9% year-over-year. The 500 and Panda were the two best-sellers in their segment, claiming a combined 28.7% share. FCA reported that sales of the 500L rose 20% to nearly 93,000 vehicles and taking a 21.9% share of its segment.
Ferrari and Maserati together delivered more than 8,200 vehicles in Europe, twice the number recorded in 2013..
December market share was up 0.12% to 5.60% of total European market sales while share for the 2014 calendar year fell 0.11% to 5.9% of the market.
In 2014, new passenger car registrations in Europe (the 28 members of the European Union and the nations in the European Free Trade Agreement) were up 5.4% to just over 13 million. December’s results were also positive with registrations up 4.9% year-over-year to nearly a million vehicles.
Allpar photographer Marc Rozman spoke with a company source who said that the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat had entered production on Monday, but that the January allocation was already sold — along with that of the Challenger Hellcat. (We had earlier reported that the full allocation was sold.)
While managers have said they are not imposing a limit on production of the cars, the number of engines that can be produced is limited, and suppliers most likely have only signed up for a specific number of key components. These factors might make production of a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk using the supercharged V8 (to say nothing of another Ram R/T) difficult at best.
Sources have claimed both that these vehicles have been approved, and that they have been turned down — Grand Cherokee, in particular, because the engine noise would conflict with its semi-luxury feel. However, critics have had such acclaim for the Hellcat twins that those decisions may have been reconsidered.
Full-size cars are in decline. While lower fuel prices have pumped up sales of crossovers, SUVs, and pickups, they haven’t boosted sales of big sedans.
Even the big luxury cars weren’t immune, though the decline for the high-buck rides was smaller that it was for mainstream brands.
Automakers sold 475,306 non-luxury large sedans in 2014, down 8.9% from 2013’s tally of 521,555. Large-car market share fell from 3.3% to 2.9%.
Looking at sales per model, though, the big cars aren’t doing too badly. The average full-year sales per large car model was 59,413 in 2014, which was 16.8% higher than the 50,864 overall average sales per car line.
The Dodge Charger was a major player in the segment. With 140,280 sales, the Chevrolet Impala had the top numbers in 2014, but the 94,099 sales racked up by the Dodge was good enough for runner-up status in both December and full-year sales. (If one adds in the 300, Chrysler’s combined large car market share was 31.0%, compared to GM’s 40.3% with the Impala and the Buick LaCrosse.)
The base price for a Charger SE with the Pentastar V6 and 8-speed transmission is about $3,000 below the segment average of $31,066; the fuel economy is competitive with the other cars, except for the four-banger Chevy. Perhaps the arrival of the Charger SRT with the Hellcat engine will spark fresh interest in the Dodge.
Ford was the big loser in the segment: Taurus sales fell 21.7% last year, a larger shortfall of any other full-size car. Even having the lowest base price in the segment hasn’t helped the Ford gain any traction. Toyota Avalon also lost ground — not as much as the Ford, which helped it to move up to third place.
U.S. FULL-SIZE NON-LUXURY CARS
Impala, Charger, and Taurus figures include police vehicles.