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The Chrysler Chronicles: 78 months with Fiat

by Bill Cawthon on

Now that Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has abandoned his efforts to persuade or force a merger with GM, it’s time to get back to focusing on Chrysler, the company’s profit engine in North America.

While Marchionne once said that Fiat Chrysler could survive without GM “in mediocrity,” that hasn’t been the way so far, and it’s worth a look back.

Chrysler-78mos-Web
It’s been 78 months, six and one-half years, since Sergio Marchionne and Fiat S.p.A. brought the new Chrysler Group LLC out of bankruptcy. The company was a shambles, looted by Daimler, then by Cerberus Capital Management, with a reputation for cheap materials and poor workmanship.

From being in danger of falling behind Honda, Nissan, and even Hyundai, the once-endangered Chrysler brands are currently fourth among the major players in the US, with a 550,000-sale lead over Honda — for just Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram, not including Fiat.

Even without the addition of Fiat and Alfa Romeo, the old Chrysler brands have racked up 68 consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth since April 2010.

Dodge was the best-selling FCA brand in the US for 45 of the 78 months. It led continuously from June 2009 to October 2010; then Dodge and Jeep traded the lead back and forth until April 2014, when Jeep took the lead for good.

Chrysler-78mos-Brands-Web

Over the past six and one-half years, Jeep has soared, Ram has grown, Chrysler has maintained a fairly even keel, and Dodge has dropped. The Chrysler 200 has been the key to maintaining Chrysler’s sales. Dodge was able to grow even after the Ram brand trucks were stripped away, but the Dart wasn’t able to fill the void left by the decision to drop the Avenger.

78-Month Snapshot
Brand Total Sales Best Month Sales Worst Month Sales
Chrysler 1,733,827 March 2012 34,726 September 2009 9,046
Dodge 3,290,337 March 2014 60,575 January 2010 19,953
Jeep 3,270,155 August 2015 80,804 October 2009 13,500
Ram 2,051,543 August 2015 49,439 January 2010 11,032
Fiat 191,528 May 2014 4,771 March 2011 500
Alfa Romeo 697 January 2015 97 November 2014 24
Chrysler Brands 10,345,862 May 2015 198,320 January 2010 57,143
FCA US 10,538,087 May 2015 202,227 January 2012 101,149

 

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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