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August by the numbers

by Bill Cawthon on

While industrywide sales dipped a bit in August, there was some good news, especially for Mopar fans.

Fiat Chrysler was the only one of the Detroit automakers to beat its August 2015 numbers. In fact, FCA was the only major car company to advance. Ford sales swooned last month as the folks in Dearborn reported their largest drop in several years. General Motors continues to trade volume for profit by cutting fleet sales and is now 4.2% behind in year-to-date deliveries.


Jeep remained the best-selling utility brand. In fact, August Jeep sales came within 690 units of equaling GM’s total utility deliveries.

The Cherokee was fifth out of 104 crossovers and SUVs with sales reported for August. The Grand Cherokee was seventh and the Wrangler was tenth.

Jeep is the #6 brand by sales volume but every brand ahead of it has passenger cars, vans, and pickups. Jeep does it all with crossovers and SUVs.

Ram pickup sales were down slightly, but that’s actually not too bad. Sales of full-size pickups dropped 5.6% last month, and the Ram’s 0.3% deficit was the smallest of the bunch.  For the first eight months of 2016, the Ram is second only to the Ford F-series in sales gains.

Ram ProMaster vans had a good month. August sales rose 25.4% and year-to-date (YTD) turnover is up 52.5%, the largest increase of any commercial van line. The ProMasters are now ahead of Mercedes-Benz and Nissan in both monthly and YTD sales.


Success in commercial van sales may not sound like much; they only account for about 2.5% of total light vehicle sales. However, vans made up August’s fastest-growing market segment.

The Dodge Grand Caravan was the best-selling minivan last month, beating the Toyota Sienna by 290 units. The Grand Caravan has the lead for the year by a slightly more comfortable margin. FCA minivans took a 42.2% piece of the total minivan pie last month.

FCA cars don’t get much respect, but Dodge was the third-best-selling American car brand in August and Chrysler had more car sales than Cadillac or Lincoln. The Charger was the best-selling full-size sedan and the Challenger was just 342 sales behind the Camaro.

The Chrysler 300 was 409 deliveries behind the Chevy Impala and ahead of every car from Buick, Cadillac and Lincoln.

Now the not-so-good news:

FCA had the highest percentage of fleet sales with 23.7% of total volume going to mostly daily rental fleets. Ford saw its fleet share drop 10% to 21.5% and GM said that just 17% of its turnover went to fleets.


FCA saw the second-largest jump in estimated average transaction prices (ATP). FCA’s August ATP was $35,455, up 3.4% from last August. That should be good news but incentives took a big bite out of that, climbing 15.6% to an estimated $4,146. Incentives accounted for about 12.5% of the average transaction price last month.

High fleet sales and big spending on incentives are both going to eat away at the margins that FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to increase. When supplies of the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart run out, that should help the bottom line somewhat but the new products that Marchionne has delayed would help even more.

When Automotive News presented its list of winners and losers for August, FCA didn’t have a brand in the winners column. It did, however, have four of the five biggest losers.  Alfa Romeo led the list, with Maserati coming in third, Chrysler fourth and Fiat fifth.

Had the Automotive News list been a bit longer, Jeep would have been on it. Jeep was seventh in August sales growth.

Note: FCA issued a revised sales chart to to correct errors in the year-to-date entries. The revised chart can be found in Dave Zatz’s article on August sales.

[Allpar analysis based on data compiled from manufacturer reports.]

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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