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November from a Chrysler perspective

by Bill Cawthon on

As the Northeast continued to recover from Sandy’s visit, thousands of vehicles began to be replaced. As a result, the seasonally adjusted sales rate (SAAR) rose to 15.54 million, a figure we last saw in January 2008.

Seven new November sales records were set, as was one all-time sales record posted by Porsche, which enjoyed a 71.4% leap.

Chrysler’s more modest 14.4% was the best of the Detroit automakers and continued the company’s long streak of month-over-month improvements. Chrysler did lose a tenth of a point of market share, but that was a small part of the 3.1-point loss for the U.S. car companies, General Motors was the big loser, giving up 1.8 points, while Ford chipped in 1.2 points.

Chrysler and GM sales were off compared to October. Chrysler sales dropped 2.8% while GM’s fell 4.7%. Ford sales increased from October to November, up 5.4% on big volumes for the Focus and the new C-Max.

The bulk of that Detroit share was taken by Honda, which saw its sales explode in November, coming in 38.9% ahead of November 2011 and setting a new record for the month. Sales of the Accord and Civic were way up and Odyssey minivan sales rose enough to make it top of the minivan segment for the month, though the Dodge Grand Caravan still has the lead going into December. The Toyota Sienna took the No. 2 spot leaving the Town & Country in fourth.

In total monthly sales, Honda cut Chrysler’s lead for November down to just 5,985 units; Chrysler will still finish the year ahead of No. 5 Honda: there’s a 209,409-sale gap in the year-to-date numbers. Honda would have to increase its November sales by 79.6% and have Chrysler take the month off to take the No. 4 ranking.

Nissan also had a record month with sales 12.9% ahead of last November and 20.7% ahead of October 2012.

Porsche, Honda and Nissan were joined in the new-record category by Subaru, Hyundai, Kia, Audi and Daimler AG. By the third week in November, Audi sales had already exceeded its total for all 12 months of 2011.

With an increase of 122.7%, Fiat posted the largest percentage gain of any brand in November, but it came up 37 sales behind the Mini for the month and now trails by 819 sales for the year. However, the Mini line, not counting the Countryman, which is considered a light truck, consists of five vehicles: the Cooper and Cooper S, Cooper and Cooper S convertible, Cooper and Cooper S Clubman and the recently introduced Coupe and Roadster. Fiat has the 500, 500C and the Abarth and the 500 is more than a match for the standard Cooper/Cooper S. Fiat did outsell the Honda Fit and was just 85 sales behind the Ford Fiesta for the month. It also outsold the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Mazda2 and Chevrolet Spark.

One Cadillac, the SRX and one Buick, the Enclave, came in ahead of the Chrysler 300 in November, but Chrysler brand was still the best-selling upscale American car line. Both GM vehicles are crossovers, which is still a hot segment.

Jeep’s November stumble was due in large part to the wind-down of the Liberty, aggravated by Compass sales falling off a cliff. The Grand Cherokee was still the best-selling vehicle in its class and trailed only the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox and Ford Explorer in SUV/Crossover sales. The Toyota RV4 was the only SUV/Crossover between the Grand Cherokee and the Wrangler, both of which were in the top 20 light trucks by sales.

Sales of the Dart dropped 17.7% from October to November, but that raises a very legitimate question about the launch strategy, especially the decision to release the model with manual transmission only in a country where a large segment of the target market has no idea how to drive a stick. It might also be a good time for Olivier Francois to shelve the time machine and bestow a bit of fresh creativity on the new car’s marketing.

Dodge had some impressive gains, not only when stacked up against last November, but when compared to October of this year. Sales of the Durango rose 26.7% from October to November and Charger sales improved nicely, as well.

When looking at the charts, it might be easy to get discouraged when the reality is that Chrysler had another good sales month. While the movement in the rankings is sometimes due to sales performance, the majority of the changes were driven by very strong sales of import brands, meaning more of those models moved up in the rankings. It’s important also to remember that import brands, many of get a significant portion of their sales from the region impacted by the storm, are now just beginning to recover.

CHRYSLER LIGHT VEHICLE SALES: NOVEMBER BY VOLUME
Nov Oct Brand & Model Nov-12 Nov-11 Change Oct-12 Change
6 5 Ram Pickup 24,337 19,739 23.3% 25,222 -3.5%
20 23 Jeep Grand Cherokee 13,619 13,545 0.5% 11,919 14.3%
30 24 Jeep Wrangler 10,337 9,225 12.1% 11,310 -8.6%
41 26 Dodge Grand Caravan 8,578 6,053 41.7% 10,603 -19.1%
47 35 Chrysler 200 7,371 8,065 -8.6% 8,758 -15.8%
51 45 Dodge Avenger 7,132 5,643 26.4% 7,637 -6.6%
53 41 Chrysler Town & Country 6,636 6,446 2.9% 8,281 -19.9%
54 52 Dodge Journey 6,569 3,711 77.0% 5,955 10.3%
55 67 Dodge Charger 6,316 5,099 23.9% 4,924 28.3%
72 64 Chrysler 300 4,759 4,066 17.0% 5,183 -8.2%
75 59 Dodge Dart 4,489 0 NEW 5,455 -17.7%
80 75 Jeep Liberty 4,202 5,201 -19.2% 4,099 2.5%
81 73 Jeep Patriot 4,174 4,013 4.0% 4,209 -0.8%
83 92 Dodge Durango 4,091 3,947 3.6% 3,230 26.7%
94 82 Fiat 500 3,603 1,618 122.7% 3,720 -3.1%
104 104 Dodge Challenger 2,868 2,996 -4.3% 2,686 6.8%
110 112 Jeep Compass 2,715 4,262 -36.3% 2,486 9.2%
194 219 Ram Cargo Van 737 226 226.1% 385 91.4%
251 251 Dodge Caliber 32 1,202 -97.3% 92 -65.2%
TOTALS 122,565 105,057 16.7% 126,185 -2.9%

CHRYSLER LIGHT VEHICLE SALES: YTD BY VOLUME
Nov Oct Brand & Model Jan-Nov ’12 Jan-Nov ’11 Change Jan-Oct 2012 Change
8 8 Ram Pickup 263,152 218,749 20.3% 238,815 10.2%
25 25 Jeep Grand Cherokee 137,613 110,398 24.7% 123,994 11.0%
27 26 Jeep Wrangler 130,124 111,045 17.2% 119,787 8.6%
29 27 Dodge Grand Caravan 127,308 98,983 28.6% 118,730 7.2%
31 30 Chrysler 200 116,396 77,820 49.6% 109,025 6.8%
42 37 Chrysler Town & Country 102,486 84,701 21.0% 98,850 3.7%
45 45 Dodge Avenger 89,508 57,807 54.8% 82,376 8.7%
54 55 Dodge Charger 74,725 62,878 18.8% 68,409 9.2%
58 57 Jeep Liberty 71,975 60,523 18.9% 67,773 6.2%
59 60 Dodge Journey 71,875 50,445 42.5% 65,306 10.1%
65 63 Chrysler 300 63,572 31,143 104.1% 58,813 8.1%
69 68 Jeep Patriot 57,444 50,247 14.3% 53,270 7.8%
88 87 Fiat 500 40,065 17,444 129.7% 36,462 9.9%
89 88 Dodge Challenger 39,177 36,250 8.1% 36,309 7.9%
94 95 Dodge Durango 37,373 46,891 -20.3% 33,282 12.3%
96 92 Jeep Compass 37,104 43,454 -14.6% 34,389 7.9%
139 150 Dodge Dart 19,198 0 NEW 14,709 30.5%
172 168 Dodge Caliber 10,145 33,632 -69.8% 10,113 0.3%
210 210 Ram Cargo Van 6,401 518 1135.7% 5,664 13.0%
231 231 Dodge Nitro 3,269 22,445 -85.4% 3,269 0.0%
263 267 Ram Dakota 490 11,748 -95.8% 490 0.0%
278 284 Dodge Viper 20 161 -87.6% 20 0.0%
TOTALS 1,499,420 1,227,282 22.2% 1,379,855 8.7%

Source: Allpar LLC and manufacturer data. Manufacturers reported sales for 302 models in November.

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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