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Does this explain FCA sales decline?

by Chris Vander Doelen on

Losing sales when everybody else seems to be having a good month doesn’t look in the headlines – or in showrooms, or Wall Street, or anywhere else.

So it was a grim task for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to report a nearly ten percent sales dip for September, when the industry as a whole was up six percent – for the first time this year – outselling most expert predictions. The SAAR even hit a giddy 18.58 million, like in the good old days.

2017 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Plus

2017 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Plus

An analyst at the Motley Fool thinks he has the answer to the “scary” sales decline. It’s the retooling. And the two missing products.

FCA’s sales were down 18,617 from September of 2016 – a plunge some attributed to a sharp pullback in fleet sales by the company. But as John Rosevear points out, that’s less than the 20,000 monthly units FCA is losing due to the absence of five products in its lineup last month: the discontinued 200, Dodge Dart, and Jeep Patriot, plus two key sale drivers in the Dodge Grand Caravan, and the new Ram 1500 pickup.

The latter two at least will be back, Rosevear argues. The new 1500 launches in January, and some buyers are undoubtedly holding off to buy the new one. Grand Caravan production is down while Windsor Assembly undergoes a minor retooling for new airbags to meet 2018 NHTSA standards on the old minivan platform which was introduced way back in 2008, and last upgraded in 2011. (The Pacifica, also built there, already meets them). The Caravan will be back in a month.

When both return to the showrooms, we’ll know if they were the reason for September’s sales dip.

Chris Vander Doelen was Opinion Editor and columnist of The Windsor Star until December, 2016; he was the Star's automotive reporter and columnist for seven years, and had also covered the political and gambling beats. With his wife, Veronique Mandal, he wrote the book Chasing Lightning (1999). Chris won a National Newspaper Award in 1997 and more than a dozen provincial news awards. There is a Chrysler 300 in his driveway.

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