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When third is still amazing

by Bill Cawthon on

FCA finished third in the June light truck sales race. It’s a letdown from the past couple of months, but some perspective is needed.

Last June, General Motors sold 37,307 more crossovers, SUVs, vans and pickups than FCA. This year, FCA slashed that margin by more than 90%, to 3,640. The gap between FCA and Ford was cut 84%, going from 7,956 to 1,245.


For the first half of the year, FCA light truck sales grew more than 20% while Ford’s growth was just over half that, at 11%. FCA leads Ford in total light truck deliveries for the first six months of 2016. GM remains the overall leader but its January-June truck sales were actually down more than 2%.

While it had to settle for third place in total truck sales, FCA dominated in utilities and minivans

In the key utility segment, FCA reigned supreme last month. Jeep finished June 8,414 sales ahead of Ford and Lincoln’s combined SUV sales, and just 2,426 sales behind the GM’s four brands. Adding in the Dodge Durango, Dodge Journey, and Fiat 500X, FCA utility sales came in 15,012 ahead of GM, and 25,852 ahead of Ford.

As of the end of June, FCA is 65,494 sales ahead of GM and 131,229 in front of Ford in total utility sales.


The Wrangler’s record month jumped it to fifth out of 105 crossovers and SUVs; the only American-badged utility to beat the Wrangler’s numbers was the Ford Escape.  Jeep, as a whole, is the sixth-best-selling brand in the U.S., and the top all-truck brand.

It may be a matter of time before crossovers and SUVs become the dominant industry segment. Last month, traditional cars dropped below 40% of the market for the first time in memory. The car share was 39.4%; the crossover/SUV share was 39.2%. The margin between the two segments was just 3,332 vehicles.

The Chrysler Pacifica, Town & Country, and the Dodge Grand Caravan accounted for 46% of total minivan sales in June. Number One is a good place to be right now: minivans had the highest growth of any major segment. The Caravan led the segment.

While combined U.S. sales of the Pacifica and Town & Country were slightly higher than the Caravan’s, in Canada, the Caravan beat the combined sales of the two Chrysler-brand minivans by a margin of 22 to 1.

While FCA is moving the metal, it’s paying a hefty price. According to estimates from, FCA had the highest incentives of any major automaker last month, averaging over $4,000 per sale. GM wasn’t far behind, and Ford upped its incentives by 35%.

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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