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August from a Chrysler perspective

by Bill Cawthon on

Jeep-Perspective-Web
Yesterday, Chrysler announced its best August sales since 2002. Volume was 19.8% higher than August 2013 and 18.3% higher than July 2014.

The numbers blew right past even the most optimistic predictions. The average forecast from a group of industry and financial analysts polled by Bloomberg said Chrysler sales would rise 12.3%. Jesse Toprak of Cars.com came the closest with a forecast of 16.2%.

In contrast to Chrysler’s big jump, Ford sales were up just 0.4% and General Motors’ volume dropped by 1.2%.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles claimed the top three growth spots in August as Maserati, Jeep and Ram outperformed the industry by a large margin. Fiat was one of the month’s big losers due to a late-July recall that froze 500Ls on dealer lots for the month of August.

Going beyond the percentages, Chrysler Group also posted the largest increase in volume.

Chrysler’s market share rose from 11.0% in August 2013 to 12.5% last month. Year-to-date (YTD) share rose an entire point, to 12.4%, compared to the first eight months of last year. Ford and General Motors both lost both monthly and YTD share.

Of course, Jeep is the big story with another big month. In the month of August, Jeep was the best-selling utility brand in the industry. This includes crossovers as well as traditional sport-utility vehicles. Jeep was also the seventh best-selling brand, quite a feat for a pure SUV line: every brand above it includes cars and other light trucks.

CUV/SUV SALES BY BRAND
MONTHLY YEAR-TO-DATE
Rank Brand August Rank Brand Jan-Aug
1 Jeep 68,766 1 Ford 475,576
2 Ford 61,676 2 Jeep 461,156
3 Toyota 60,416 3 Toyota 452,357
4 Chevrolet 47,397 4 Chevrolet 373,803
5 Honda 45,926 5 Honda 297,985
6 Nissan 37,169 6 Nissan 243,725
7 GMC 25,930 7 GMC 175,836
8 Subaru 24,669 8 Subaru 154,639
9 Dodge 14,912 9 Dodge 106,903
10 Hyundai 14,568 10 Kia 103,877
11 Kia 14,488 11 Hyundai 103,332
12 Lexus 14,316 12 BMW 86,759
13 Mazda 12,620 13 Lexus 85,698
14 Buick 10,667 14 Mazda 82,935
15 Acura 10,484 15 Buick 73,793
16 BMW 9,879 16 Acura 73,375
17 Mercedes 8,969 17 Mercedes 71,797
18 Cadillac 8,080 18 Cadillac 55,892
19 Audi 6,444 19 Audi 41,818
20 Lincoln 4,720 20 Land Rover 35,318
21 Land Rover 4,489 21 Infiniti 34,119
22 Infiniti 4,187 22 Lincoln 30,135
23 Mitsubishi 4,003 23 Mitsubishi 29,902
24 Volkswagen 2,837 24 Volkswagen 23,103
25 Porsche 2,454 25 Porsche 15,691
26 Volvo 2,110 26 Volvo 15,657

The significance of the Jeep achievement is even sweeter because Toyota set an all-time record for SUV sales and it still couldn’t match Jeep.

In YTD sales, Jeep is 14,420 sales behind Ford but if Jeep can keep up the pace, it could be the No. 1 SUV brand by the end of October.

Chrysler Group’s strong suit is trucks and it played its cards just right as buyer interests turned toward crossovers and SUVs. Last month, Chrysler sold more light trucks than any other automaker except General Motors. It also sold more SUVs than anyone except General Motors with its four brands, though if you compare the total of Jeep and Dodge to Chevrolet and GMC, Chrysler’s the winner.

Even though the Ram pickup got knocked down to fifth in the monthly volume standings due to all-time record sales of the Honda Accord, it’s still fourth in the YTD ranks and has the strongest growth of any full-size pickup.

The Ram ProMaster outsold the new Ford Transit and the Nissan NV and it’s not far behind the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in Euro-style van sales.

The Chrysler Town & Country is the best-selling minivan for the first eight months of the year and was the best-seller in August, as well.

While the Chrysler 200 is still building sales and share, it’s worth noting that it was the second-fastest-growing car in the mid-size segment during the June to August period. Only Honda’s big August spike kept the 200 out of first place.

Mid-Size-Sales-Growth-Web

Fiat 500 sales are in line with the market, which is moving away from the smallest cars. Excluding the Countryman, which is considered a light truck, the Cinquecento is outselling the total of Mini car models in both monthly and YTD figures. It’s also outselling every Scion model as well as the Toyota Yaris.

An airbag recall at the end of July is responsible for the Fiat 500L’s low August sales. The recall included all the units in dealer inventory.

Keeping it all in the family, Maserati set another all-time North American sales record with 1,274 sales (1,233 of those sales were in the U.S.). U.S. growth was an industry leading 278.2%.

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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