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What’s in the driver’s seat?

by David Zatz on

Some say a company can be defined by its biggest sellers, and others say the image and profit flagships are what count. At FCA US, the biggest sellers are, in some cases, also the flagships.

us-sales

The biggest FCA US seller, by far, is the Ram pickup/chassis cab series, which is interesting when one considers that, in the 1980s, the company essentially gave up on that entire class. So far this year, Ram has sold 441,862 of their flagship trucks, more than a fifth of FCA US’ total — 22% of all sales (except the minimal Fiat/Alfa Romeo sales).  Last year, Ram pickups and chassis accounted for 20% of the total.

The #2 best seller at the old Chrysler was the Jeep Grand Cherokee (189,023, year to date), followed closely by the Jeep Cherokee (183,356). Grand Cherokee sales are up 8% for the year, and Cherokee is down 6%; each accounted for 9% of total sales, but Grand Cherokee most likely drove far more profit.

The Grand Cherokee shares the Jeep “flagship” position with the Wrangler, FCA US’ fourth best seller, with 176,053 sales — down 6% from 2015 YTD, but still respectable, and again 9% of total sales.

The next vehicle is the Dodge Caravan, a company leader since the 1980s, boasting a massive 35% sales increase since 2015 (supplies were constrained for part of last year). That’s 6% of total sales, nearly 121,000 minivans moving.

Belvidere's Millionth

Belvidere’s millionth compact, a Jeep Patriot

Next we have a couple of odd fellas, the Jeep Patriot (114,117) and Dodge Journey (96,991), both old stalwarts with few recent changes, likely selling mainly on price and utility. The newer Jeep Renegade comes in just behind them, at 94,561 sales.  No other vehicle comes in with 5% or more of the company’s total US sales.

The Dodge flagship is the Challenger, and that was Dodge’s fifth best  seller, after the Caravan, Journey, Charger, and Durango. That was just 3% of the company’s sales, with 59,176 sold so far this year, but the Challenger arguably drives Dodge’s reputation, and it’s a key car for that reason.

300C-invoice

The Chrysler flagship is the 300, and it sold just 49,657 copies — good for its segment and up slightly from last year, but just 2% of the total FCA sales (around half of Chrysler sales, since the Pacifica came in at 52,083). It’s worth noting that Chrysler minivans have been about even in sales with Dodge in recent years, and that’s still true this year — 120,991 Dodges vs 110,888 Chryslers.

Going by body types, the large cars do much better; the same basic car has three variants, with 197,033 sales last year, a full 10% of FCA US sales year-to-date. Together, though, they don’t come close to the related Grand Cherokee/Durango combination, at a factory-constrained 251,701 sales. You can see why FCA puts its money where it does; the other two related cars, oddly not built in the same plant, were the Dart and 200, with a little over 100,000 sales, combined (about half of 2015’s year-to-date figure).

300C-super-bee

In terms of the “old Mopars vs Fiat-based,” we have on one hand the Renegade, ProMasters, Pacifica, Dart, 200, and Cherokee, and on the other, well, everything else.  It’s a meaningless metric, but we stand at 1.54 million “old Mopars” and 0.48 million “Fiat based” sales.

The most successful FCA US brands have the highest sales from their flagships, while Dodge’s highest sales come from the cars that are least in tune with the brand. It’s an interesting thought.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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