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Chrysler sales spike in January

by Bill Cawthon on

Sergio Marchionne warned analysts to expect a drop in sales at some point, as the company let them fall to reach the original projections.


That point hasn’t been reached yet. FCA US reported a 7% increase in sales in January, compared with January 2015, well above even the most optimistic analyst forecast.

This was the best January sales report in nine years, with 155,037 cars and trucks sold; and it’s the 70th month of consecutive sales gains.

Dodge was the leader in sales growth, as a percentage, followed by Jeep and Ram. Chrysler contracted with gains in minivans and large cars outweighed by a sudden drop in 200 sales, as incentives were diverted away.

Group Jan 2016 Jan 2015 Change
Chrysler 18,214 23,393 -22%
Jeep 59,032 51,523 15%
Dodge 42,109 35,347 19%
Ram 33,021 31,392 5%
Mopar Total 152,376 141,655 8%
Alfa Romeo 67 97 -31%
Fiat 2,594 3,255 -20%
Fiat Total 2,661 3,352 8%
GRAND TOTAL 155,037 145,007 7%
Cars 30,157 39,888 -24%
Trucks 124,880 105,119 19%

Looking at the numbers, one can see why Sergio Marchionne is favoring “trucks” (a large category that includes vans, minivans, pickups, SUVs, and crossovers) over “cars” (which can include crossovers but usually does not). Cars continue to fall, while trucks continue to gain. Part of this, for January, is the removal of a good deal of the 200 incentives, resulting in a dramatic loss of sales. Dart sales also fell.

Despite heavy snows, Wrangler sales fell why the big rear wheel drive cars — 300, Charger, and Challenger — all rose. The large cars are sold with all wheel drive as an option, which is not available on the Dart but is on the 200.

The “time limited” Compass and Patriot continue to grow; Cherokee, despite added incentives, appears to have reached its peak. Minivan sales are up partly due to the factory closure last year. The commercial vans are both growing in sales as cautious fleet managers start to try them out; while the small Fiats continue to fall, partly as potential 500L buyers turn to the 500X.

By individual model:

Brand Model Jan 2016 Jan 2015 Change
Jeep Compass 5,089 4,317 18%
Patriot 8,273 7,563 9%
Wrangler 10,797 11,683 -8%
Cherokee 15,347 15,154 1%
Grand Cherokee 13,164 12,806 3%
Renegade 6,362 0 New
Chrysler 200 5,200 14,157 -63%
300 4,634 3,192 45%
Town & Country 8,380 6,044 39%
Dodge Dart 4,748 8,136 -42%
Avenger 0 242 -100%
Charger 9,164 7,025 30%
Challenger 5,085 4,592 11%
Viper 52 61 -15%
Journey 8,456 7,041 20%
Caravan 8,525 4,665 83%
Durango 6,079 3,585 70%
Ram Pickup 29,938 28,618 5%
Cargo Van 0 1,101 -100%
ProMaster Van 2,109 1,580 33%
ProMaster City 974 93 947%
Alfa Romeo Alfa 4C 67 97 -31%
Fiat 500 1,207 2,386 -49%
500L 369 869 -58%
500X 1,018 0 New

Sales were not the only gain: according to Kelley Blue Book, FCA enjoyed the largest gain in transaction prices (the amount paid for the cars and trucks) among major automakers, largely due to Dodge and Ram. They wrote that average transaction prices rose by 4.5%,  from $33,026 in January 2015 to $34,504 in January 2016.

FCA’s average prices were roughly the same as in December, but Ford and General Motors saw their prices fall 3.4% and 3.2%, respectively. (Transaction prices do not include incentives, which appear to have risen as well.)

Bad news came in the form of startling high inventory, with 103 days of sales — 666,652 cars and trucks.

January records were set by the Cherokee, Patriot, Compass, Journey, Challenger, Charger, Ram pickup, ProMaster, and ProMaster City. Jeep had its best January ever.

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, 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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