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December from a Chrysler perspective

by Bill Cawthon on

Million-Jeep-Year-Web
It’s the new year, time to get used to the new name.

That being said, Chrysler is still going to remain the focus of Allpar’s monthly look at the month, and year, that just ended.

December was the 57th consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. That’s an amazing record for a car company many gave up for dead.

57-months-gowth-web

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had three of the five top growth brands, both in December and for the 2014 calendar year. Chrysler, Ram and Maserati took the December honors while Maserati, Jeep and Ram were the top three growth brands for the year. Dodge’s two-percent deficit was enough to make it one of the five biggest losers.

Anyone paying attention wasn’t surprised that Jeep hit Sergio Marchionne’s goal of a million sales in 2014. December sales in the U.S, Canada and Mexico brought the total to within 10,000 of the goal and international sales took car of the rest with room to spare.

Jeep is the No. 1 utility brand in the U.S. and, while international sales results aren’t complete, it’s quite likely Jeep is the No. 1 SUV brand in the world.

It’s hard to overstate what Mike Manley and his team have done, not just in the U.S., but on a worldwide basis. Fully a quarter of all Jeep sales came from outside North America. While the Italian-built Renegade contributed to that total, the vast majority of Jeeps sold in 2014 came from either Toledo, Ohio, Warren, Michigan or Belvidere, Illinois. You’d be hard-pressed to find another American-branded, U.S.-built vehicle that could match Jeep’s international numbers.

FCA US 2014 WORLDWIDE SALES
Brand Total Worldwide U.S. & Canada Mexico & International
Chrysler 351,946 333,501 18,445
Dodge 745,946 667,151 78,795
Jeep 1,017,019 762,851 254,168
Ram 586,812 560,968 25,844
Chrysler Total 2,701,723 2,324,471 377,252
Fiat 63,917 54,148 9,769
Alfa Romeo 167 93 74
Grand Total 2,765,807 2,378,712 387,095

Chrysler brands accounted for 97.7% of FCA US’ 2014 sales and 86% of those sales were made in the U.S. and Canada. After Jeep, Dodge had the highest Mexico and international sales and the bulk of those were made in Mexico. Since the Dodge Journeys sold as Fiat Freemonts in Europe are probably counted under FCA Italy’s total, it’s likely that there were more Dodge-built vehicles sold than are credited to the brand.

The Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee made the list of the top 20 vehicles based on December sales with the Cherokee beating its larger sibling by 539 sales.

The Ram pickup was another outstanding performer, finishing the year by knocking the Toyota Camry out of the No. 3 spot for the month and the year.

A burst of sales for the Chrysler 200 propelled it to the No. 13 spot among passenger cars for December and even though the Toyota Sienna was the best-selling minivan in December, the Chrysler Town & Country took the top spot for the year, edging the No. 2 Dodge Grand Caravan by 3,888 sales. The Sienna beat the Honda Odyssey for the No. 3 spot by 1,764 sales.

The minivan race was close. For the year, the Town & Country, Grand Caravan, Sienna and Odyssey were numbers 37, 38, 39 and 40 by sales volume. The biggest gap between the four leaders was the 9,650-sales between the Grand Caravan and Sienna.

The Fiat 500 outsold the various MINI car models, but the 500L couldn’t keep up with the MINI Countryman so the MINI brand won by about 10,000 sales. Fiat can take some solace in knowing it was again the top automaker in Brazil.

So when’s it time to admit you’ve got a loser on your hands? Well, if you’re Ford’s Lincoln Division, right now might be good. Maserati not only outsold the Lincoln MKS for the entire year, it did it by 58.6%. Maserati announced that its December and 2014 North American sales hit new all-time records.

Last year was the best sales year since 2006 for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. But if you compare apples-to-apples, it was a near miss. In 2007, there were only the three Chrysler brands: Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep. Brand-for-brand, adjusting for the split that created Ram, 2014 came up 15,630 sales short of matching 2007. On the plus side, they have risen 119.2% since the depths of 2009.

As the chart below shows, Jeep is the big winner in the battle of the brands, thanks to a huge spike in 2014. Ram’s been on a smooth upward path since 2009. Dodge was growing well up to last year but big cars took a hit in the market and the Dart just can’t bring in enough sales to replace the Avenger. Chrysler is the weakest of the brands but it’s almost unfair to compare its current three-vehicle lineup to the much broader selection of vehicles it had in 2007 and Chrysler has no entries in crossovers and SUVs, the hottest market segment right now.

Chrysler-Brand-Sales

According to Marchionne’s original five-year plan, Chrysler was supposed to hit a 14% market share in 2013. FCA US LL still isn’t quite there, but its market share growth beats every other major automaker, especially when compared to 2009, the year Marchionne made his prediction.

Market-Share-Web

FCA’s sales growth over the past five years also beats its hometown rivals. Of the three, only FCA has surpassed its sales volume from 2007. Ford is only about 88,000 sales shy but GM is over 887,000 sales short of hitting its 2007 numbers.

YOY-Volume-Web

Two million sales at home; 2.7 million sales worldwide; a million Jeeps and a record year for Ram. All in all, 2014 was a year to celebrate. The only question now is can they beat it in 2015?

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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