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Chrysler reports 35% decline in sales, in line with industry

by David Zatz on

Chrysler announced that its October 2008 sales in the United States were 94,530 units, a 35% drop from October 2007. By comparison, GM sales dropped 45%, Toyota 23%, and Ford 32%.

Jim Press, Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman and President, commented that, “…despite this marketplace downturn, our critically important Dodge Ram launch is on schedule and our overall pickup truck share is on target. We look forward to rolling out the rest of our 2009 model year vehicles with improved quality and fuel economy and fighting for those customers who are in the market.”

The Dodge Ram remained the top seller, despite a 21% sales decline, with 2008 units dominating sales. 

No mass production cars saw sales increases; only Crossfire and Viper rose in sales, and both doubled their October 2007 volume. The heftiest declines, outside of cars no longer in production, hit the Chrysler 300 (-62%), Dakota (-70%), Sprinter (-63%), Nitro (-58%), and Durango (-58%) – all seen as being particularly rough on fuel – as well as the relatively efficient Compass, whose sales fell from 2,240 units to just 855. Dakota and Durango also fell into triple digits.  The factory which makes the Durango and Aspen will be closed ahead of schedule.

The Dodge brand, overall, experienced the smallest decline; the Caliber fell just 20%, and a sales drop of 25% in the Charger, already less severe than the 300, was countered by 3,014 new Challenger sales, netting a positive figure for Dodge-branded LX cars. Avenger fell 41%, similar to Sebring’s 45% fall; both cars, and the 300, have been revised in terms of standard features and trim levels in response to slow sales.

The treasured minivans were both hit, with the Chrysler falling 37% and the Dodge falling 24%, possibly because the latter is seen as being more economical. The Journey, not sold last year, is doing moderately well with 4,380 sales, helping to make up for a 45% drop in PT Cruiser sales and keeping Toluca busy.

Of the three small SUVs, Patriot fared best with an 11% drop, but Caliber was the sales leader despite a 20% drop; Compass sold very poorly.   

Jeep sales were similar to Dodge in the overall decline; Wrangler, which was very popular one year ago, fell by 33%, while Liberty fell by 40% (the related Nitro dropped 58%), Grand Cherokee fell 24%, and the upscale Commander dropped by 48%, for an overall 33% decline in Jeep sales.

Chrysler brand fared worst, possibly because of the rumors of the takeover which began fairly early in the month, and possibly because the brand is seen as being somewhat more expensive than Dodge. The Chrysler versions of multibranded cars tended to drop more than the Dodge versions, except for the Aspen/Durango. In addition, the Pacifica, which sold 4,880 units in October 2007, has been discontinued and sold just 606 units.

Chrysler finished the month with 395,996 units of inventory, or a 113-day supply, down 16% percent compared with October 2007 when it totaled 469,426 units.

In November, Chrysler will continue to offer the attractive incentive programs that were introduced last month. These deals provide customers an opportunity to take advantage of the remaining 2008 model year inventory at the best deals of the year. The incentive plan will focus on aggressive cash rebates up to $6,000 and discounted APR financing that drive lower monthly payments.

In addition to the significant cash incentives, in select markets some 2008 model year vehicles are available with a 0% APR for up to 72 months; and 2009 model year vehicles are available with a 1.9% to 4.9% APR for 72 months.

For returning lease customers, Chrysler will offer a Lease Loyalty allowance of up to $750 toward a new retail purchase. For consumers interested in leasing through independent financial institutions, Chrysler offers Bonus Cash of up to $2,000 on select 2008 model year vehicles.

Of the total 2009 MY Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge lineup, 73 percent of the models achieved fuel-economy improvements over the 2008 offerings. The fuel economy improvements on these nineteen models will potentially save American consumers as much as 6.7 million gallons of fuel per year.


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