FCA US sales rose nearly 6% in February, to 163,586 vehicles — slightly below analyst expectations of 8.3% growth. That said, February 2014 was a tough act to follow: Jeep sales rocketed up 47% while Ram sales rose 28% in February 2014.
This marks the 59th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth, and the company’s best February since 2007.
Jeep’s 21% increase was the largest of any FCA US brand and set a February record for the brand.
The Chrysler 200’s 31% jump drove the brand’s growth for the month as sales of the 300 and Town & Country fell slightly.
Sales of current Dodge car models (Challenger, Charger, Dart and Viper) rose 32%, but the decline in sales of the discontinued Avenger and a big drop in the Grand Caravan and Durango left Dodge in the red.
All Jeeps posted healthy increases, led by a 59% explosion in sales of the Patriot, which recorded its best sales month ever.
Ram had another good month, including a triple-digit jump in sales of the Ram ProMaster and good sales for the Ram Cargo Van.
It appears that FCA is having problems clearly communicating its Hellcat allocation process to both its dealers and its customers. In an attempt to once again shed some light on the way it works, FCA posted on its blog a re-clarification ( with a flow chart ) of the Hellcat allocation process.
This seems much clearer, and underlines that yes, any dealer can be allocated a Hellcat as long as they meet certain criteria. A sold order ( which would be verified ) would end up being placed in the queue as long as all other criteria are met.
This is good news for those dealers struggling to get a Hellcat for customers that have cash in hand, and are willing to commit to purchasing before the car is built. FCA however did take a slightly admonishing tone with some dealers who are over ordering. There is no way that a small non-performing dealer can sell 20 Hellcats, so don’t try to sell that many to your customers, because you will not get them. One a month ( Either Charger, or Challenger, not both ) will be allocated per dealer, even for sold orders. So effectively, that means a maximum of 12 Hellcats combined per year per dealer based on sold orders only, production restraints withstanding.
There will not be 20,000 Hellcat Chargers or Challengers produced this year, but there will be plenty more than the rumored 1,200. Our estimates put Challenger production totals at over 5,000, and Charger should be able to top 3,000 in this abbreviated launch year. That is 8,000 plus Hellcats to be spread out amongst FCA’s more than 2300 Dodge dealers.
Even though winter storms ravaged vehicle sales in some states and the price of regular gasoline rose 16%, analysts are still predicting strong February results when the numbers are released next Tuesday.
“Gas prices inched back up this month, but it didn’t appear to have much impact on shoppers’ choices,” said Edmunds.com’s Jessica Caldwell. “We’re still seeing a strong market for trucks and SUVs — especially compact crossover SUVs, which continue to ride an impressive wave of popularity. It is likely that the hard-hitting winter weather motivated some buyers to upgrade from their two-wheel drive vehicles.”
Allpar looked at by-manufacturer predictions from three major industry sources, Edmunds.com, KBB.com, and TrueCar.com. All three said that February’s big winners will be Toyota and Honda, but that FCA US will post the largest year-over-year increase of the three Detroit automakers, as well as notching its 69th consecutive month of year-over-year growth.
Based on the predictions, FCA’s market share will be essentially unchanged from February 2014.
The chart below shows the average of the three analyst outlooks.
AVERAGE ANALYST SALES FORECAST: FEBRUARY 2015
FCA US LLC (Chrysler)
Ford Motor Co.
Nissan North America
Toyota Motor Sales
TrueCar.com estimates that industrywide incentive spending fell 2.9% in February, so “Automakers should expect to post net revenue gains this month,” according to TrueCar analyst Eric Lyman.
FCA was second only to General Motors when it came to cash on the hood, but it wasn’t that far ahead of Kia, which TrueCar says outspent Ford on a per-unit basis.
Chrysler Canada has run up an astonishing 62 months of year-over-year growth. Admittedly, some of these months held larger gains than others, but it is a winning streak never before seen by the company, now titled FCA Canada.
The question is, how long can they keep the streak going? When sales would have flagged otherwise, they suddenly got the Cherokee. Renegades are reportedly still on their boats, heading for Baltimore and New York, and will take some time to reach Canadian dealerships — and even then, will not sell in large numbers, just because there aren’t all that many floating in.
Reports from within suggest that Chrysler Canada may end up with its record holding at 62 months (five years and two months) of growth, or, alternatively, squeaking by with a marginal “but still counting” increase. The January increase was quite small, but the, so were the 2013-vs-2012 increases in January and February 2013. As long as the company outsells February 2014, even by a single heavily discounted Dodge Caravan CVP, it’ll be ahead — keeping in mind there is one less selling day this month, due to leap year, and being a short 28-day month, that’s a big deal.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee was the best-selling vehicle in its class in Australia last year, and a new study released by Roy Morgan Research, Australia’s oldest and best-known market research company, provides some insight as to why.
While Australian car buyers rated fuel efficiency as the most important factor in a car-buying decision, purchasers of SUVs ranked mileage fifth and were more likely to consider a diesel engine than car buyers. More than that, SUV buyers desired a proven track record.
That may have led to the success of Grand Cherokee, which has an available V6 diesel in Australia as well as the US and Europe. Large SUV buyers told Roy Morgan Research they wanted all the extras as standard, and even the base Laredo has a nice list of standard features.
Jordan Pakes, Industry Director – Automotive at Roy Morgan Research, wrote, “The Grand Cherokee continued its prodigious rise over the last few years by moving from the segment’s number-four selling model in 2013 to the top seller in 2014, with 16,582 sales. This is an amazing result, given that Jeep sold only 441 Grand Cherokees in 2010, and is a true testament to the power of a unique and memorable advertising campaign combined with a strong new product appealing to buyers’ various needs.”
The January sales boost enjoyed by “Mopars” in January 2015 took place without changing the retail/fleet mix, according to figures released by Automotive News today.
Ford led the nation in the percentage of vehicles sold to fleets, as well as the absolute number of fleet sales (though by just 500). Ford sold 28% of their vehicles to fleets, while GM sold 26% to fleets, and FCA US sold 22% to fleets. Fleet sales vary from “keeping the factory busy” to being quite profitable.
Nissan has been increasing fleet sales, partly due to the cheap Versas in rental fleets and partly due to the success of its commercial vans. It leads Japanese brands in fleet sales by a large margin, selling 18,000 vehicles (19% of total sales) to fleets, roughly even to its January 2014 percentage. GM and Ford both increased the percentage of fleet sales this January, versus last January, while FCA US stayed stable.
Of the majors, the company least reliant on fleet sales has long been Honda, with a steady 98% of its sales at the retail level. This is partly because they have no work trucks in their lineup.
Jeep brand European sales skyrocketed 164.0% in January, thanks in large part to the new Jeep Renegade. Jeep sales growth outpaced every other brand in the European market and were entirely responsible for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ 5.8% increase compared to January 2014.
Jeep’s January market share nearly tripled, zooming from 0.23% in January 2014 to 0.57% this year.
Without Jeep’s 5,880 sales, FCA’s European deliveries would have actually fallen by 0.3%.
FCA this morning reported total European sales of 63,509 vehicles. Market share was down 0.03% from 6.20% in January 2014 to 6.17% last month but it was 60 basis points higher than December 2014.
The Group outpaced the industry in nearly every major European market. January sales were up 11.3% in Italy (versus 10.9% for the industry), 4.0% in Germany (vs 2.6%), 9.9% in France (vs 6.2%) and 45.1% in Spain (vs 27.4%). In the UK, where total deliveries were up 6.7%, FCA sales rose 1.9%.
One big exception was Italy, where registrations rose 10.9%. FCA’s share of its home market fell from 50.67% to 48.34%.
Fiat brand January sales rose 3.6% last month. Market share was 4.61%, down 0.12% from last January. Brand sales came in 9.5% ahead of last year in Italy, 6.1% in France and 54.6% in Spain.
The Fiat 500 and Panda remained the top-selling vehicles in the European A segment. That makes it 25 consecutive months that a Fiat brand vehicle has held the top position. The 14,000 Fiat 500s were delivered while Panda registrations came to 13,000 vehicles.
The 500L led the small MPV segment with nearly 7,800 vehicles sold. Share increased to an all-time high of 24.7%. It took less than a month for the Fiat 500X (currently available only in Italy) to hit the top ten in its segment.
Lancia/Chrysler deliveries were down 18.8% to 5,578 vehicles. In Italy, the Lancia Ypsilon was the fourth best-selling car overall and runner up in the B segment.
Alfa Romeo ended the month with sales totaling 4,000 vehicles, a drop of 11.1%. Home-market sales rose 2.6%
For Ferrari and Maserati, the Group’s luxury brands, combined sales in Europe totaled 660 vehicles, down slightly from January 2014. There were also five Dodge brand vehicle sales, which aren’t reported by FCA Italy.