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Chrysler sales up 31% in March

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler announced its best U.S. sales month since March 2008; retail sales shot up 51% in the first quarter 2011 versus the first quarter of 2010. Sales also rose 28% over February, with car sales rising in particular (90% over February and 46% over March 2010). The re-introduced Avenger saw a sales boost of 92%, while Chrysler 200 saw a whopping 191% increase over February. The Compass doubled March 2010 sales.

Overall, Chrysler reported U.S. sales of 121,730, a 31% increase over March 2010 (92,623 units). Both car and truck sales rose.

The Dodge, Chrysler and Fiat brands all contributed to the increase in car sales.
Sales of the new 2011 Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan, star of the Chrysler brand’s Super Bowl commercial, increased 191 percent in March, compared with sales in the previous month of February, as the 200’s celebrity and significant improvements translate into sales.

The Dodge Charger performance car led the surge in March car sales for the Dodge brand, while the Dodge Avenger mid-size sedan posted the brand’s largest percentage sales increase for the month.

Chrysler Group in March began selling the new 2012 Fiat 500, representing the first Fiat vehicles to be sold in the U.S. since 1984.

Even with gas prices creeping upward, Chrysler Group’s truck and SUV sales continued to post year-over-year sales gains. They were up 27% in March, driven in large part by the Ram pickup trucks, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Jeep Wrangler, and the Dodge Durango sport-utility.

Chrysler Group finished the month with a 67-day supply of inventory (301,936 units). U.S. industry sales figures for March are projected at an estimated 13.3 SAAR.

Brand specifics

Dodge posted a 49% increase in March, the largest percentage increase of the Chrysler Group brands. All Dodge models in production posted year-over-year percentage sales gains. Durango is the winner of MotorWeek’s 2011 Drivers’ Choice Award for Best Large Utility. Sales of the new 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan, the brand’s volume leader, increased 23%.

Chrysler brand’s car sales in March increased 38%. The Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan continues to build momentum in the marketplace in the wake of Chrysler brand’s Super Bowl ad. Hot on the heels of the new 200, the new 2011 Chrysler 300 sedan began hitting dealership showrooms in March.

Ram pickup truck sales were up 23%. Light Duty and Heavy Duty pickup trucks, along with the Chassis Cab, posted double-digit percentage year-over-year sales gains.

Ram unveiled its new 2012 Ram Cargo Van in March. The Ram Cargo Van – or Ram C/V – is engineered to meet small business and commercial needs. The Ram C/V provides a Class 1 commercial vehicle-leading 1,800-lb. cargo payload and category-exclusive towing capability, up to 3,600 lbs. A 20-gallon fuel tank and 25 mpg highway also deliver best-in-class fuel range.

Work Truck magazine named the Class 4 and 5 Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cab trucks its 2011 Medium-Duty Truck of the Year.

Jeep posted a 36% sales increase in March. All five Jeep brand models posted year-over-year sales gains. The Jeep Grand Cherokee posted a 64% gain. The Rocky Mountain Automotive Press Association this week named the Jeep Grand Cherokee as its 2011 SUV of the Year.

Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, the Jeep brand is offering distinctive 70th Anniversary Edition models of each vehicle in its lineup. The 70th Anniversary Edition models, which pay homage to the history of the legendary Jeep brand, are arriving in dealerships now.

Model March
2011
March
2010
Month
Change
Q1 2011 Q1 2010 Q1 Change
200 6,750 0 N/A 9,880 0 N/A
Sebring 975 3,783 -74.2% 2,327 10,536 -77.9%
300 2,727 3,798 -28.2% 5,379 9,939 -45.9%
PT Cruiser 540 798 -32.3% 1,283 2,066 -37.9%
Aspen 0 1 -100.0% 0 27 -100.0%
Town & Country 9,471 11,400 -16.9% 23,927 24,580 -2.7%
CHRYSLER 20,463 19,780 3.5% 42,796 47,148 -9.2%
Compass 3,703 1,778 108.3% 7,393 4,933 49.9%
Patriot 5,602 2,678 109.2% 13,207 7,636 73.0%
Wrangler 8,807 8,410 4.7% 22,887 19,265 18.8%
Liberty 5,207 4,078 27.7% 15,155 10,724 41.3%
Grand Cherokee 9,836 5,986 64.3% 26,115 15,911 64.1%
Commander 0 1,463 -100.0% 96 4,978 -98.1%
JEEP BRAND 33,155 24,393 35.9% 84,853 63,447 33.7%
Caliber 3,750 2,932 27.9% 9,607 7,701 24.8%
Avenger 5,954 3,093 92.5% 11,748 9,669 21.5%
Charger 8,986 6,220 44.5% 14,311 18,708 -23.5%
Challenger 3,989 3,211 24.2% 9,742 7,039 38.4%
Viper 12 18 -33.3% 84 68 23.5%
Journey 5,323 4,642 14.7% 14,180 13,571 4.5%
Caravan 9,560 7,749 23.4% 27,928 21,437 30.3%
Nitro 2,136 1,640 30.2% 6,055 4,209 43.9%
Durango 4,392 1 439100.0% 8,322 32 25906.3%
DODGE 44,102 29,506 49.5% 101,977 82,434 23.7%
Dakota 1,612 1,109 45.4% 4,085 2,994 36.4%
Ram P/U 21,898 17,818 22.9% 52,739 38,042 38.6%
Sprinter 0 17 -100.0% 0 150 -100.0%
RAM 23,510 18,944 24.1% 56,824 41,186 38.0%
TOTAL DODGE 67,612 48,450 39.6% 158,801 123,620 28.5%
FIAT 500 500 0 N/A 500 0 N/A
             
TOTAL CHRYSLER 121,730 92,623 31.4% 286,950 234,215 22.5%
             
          TOTAL CAR 33,643 23,055 45.9% 63,578 63,660 -0.1%
          TOTAL TRUCK 88,087 69,568 26.6% 223,372 170,555 31.0%

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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