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Sales spike overshadowed by Plan revelations

by David Zatz on

Last Friday, underneath headlines covering the revealed future of Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and Fiat, as well as the approval of the Ram Rebel TRX and an unexpected Cherokee DesertHawk (and a fourth “Hawk” coming later), some outlets also noted a sales boom at FCA US.

Riding on the success of Jeep, FCA US reported their best retail sales month since 2005, and an overall sales increase of 11% over May 2017. The company sold 214,294 vehicles:

  • 97,287 Jeeps (up 29%)
  • 51,884 Rams (up 2%, thanks to a Ram 1500 retail sales hike of 18% — 27,011 retail Ram 1500s)
  • 46,581 Dodges, (up 4%)
  • 14,724 Chryslers (down 18%)
  • 2,377 Alfa Romeos
  • 1,441 Fiats (down 46%)

The new Jeep Compass blasted past the old Compass+Patriot combination, with 17,327 sales in May 2018; in May 2017, they sold 5,373 Compasses and 4,978 Patriots. The Patriot itself was, arguably, replaced by the Renegade, which had a healthy 9,512 sales (down 4%). The Jeep best seller was the Wrangler, divided between the new JL and the less expensive JK; second place went to the Cherokee, up a healthy 63%, with fourth place going to the Grand Cherokee, up 4%.

Ram pickups had a good month, with sales up 4%. ProMaster Van held roughly steady and City dropped by 48%, to just 1,011 sales. Neither is even close to the comparable Ford Transits.

Chrysler sales fell largely due to the loss of the 200, which had 2,300 sales last May and 88 this May. The Pacifica was down 5% and 300 was down 11%; with just 3,484 sales, one can see why some in FCA are reportedly arguing that there should be no 2022 300.

Over at Dodge, the loss of the Dart hurt a little, cutting sales by a thousand. The Charger was down 9% but the Challenger went up by a dozen or two cars (essentially flat); the Challenger actually outsold the Charger, 7,005 to 6,869. Journey sales rose by 37%, Caravan by 12%; and Durango sales fell by 15%. There may be an interaction with rising gas prices, or maybe not.

The rout at Fiat continued, with the 500 dropping by 79%, the 500X by 19%, and the brand new Spider by 25%; the newly redesigned 500L eked out a mere 13% increase, which sounds fine until you realize it went up to 184 cars for the month. All of Fiat combined came to under half of 300C sales, even though Fiat has more standard equipment on the 500 than last year, including a turbocharger, with a lower price.

Alfa Romeo had a good month, with the Giulia gaining 33% to 1,175, and Stelvio finally beating Giulia sales (by eight).

FCA US managed to come within 77 U.S. sales of Toyota, which is replacing its mainstay platforms with the new TNGA platform/architecture, as the Japanese giant reported a 1.3% loss.

To put FCA’s results into perspective:

  • The mighty General Motors continues to feel its oats with an estimated-by-Automotive-News 11% sales gain.
  • Ford gained by just 0.5% compared with May 2017, with trucks saving the day and Lincoln dropping by 5% (to 9,755).
  • Honda gained by 3.1%, with Acura floundering at 12,819 sales (down 8%).
  • Nissan, which has been heavily subsidizing its US sales, fell by 4%, but said they would be cutting back on incentives and might fall by a total of 20% in the future.
  • Finally, Hyundai-Kia rose by 6%.

In short, FCA US outperformed the market, with all automakers combined reporting a 4.7% gain.

Over in Canada, FCA reported 28,193 sales, which dropped by 15% from last May — when FCA reported its highest monthly sales ever. Jeep, though, increased by 8%, with an all-time monthly record fr the Compass. Wrangler sales rose by 25%, and Cherokee by 73%. The Ram was the best seller by far, with 12,440 sales of full-size pickups and chassis cabs, beating the entire Jeep or Dodge range; but sales were down by 17% from last May.

In Canada, Ram (the full brand) dropped by 16%; Jeep rose by 8%; Dodge dropped by 30%; Chrysler fell by 15%; Alfa Romeo more than doubled to 152 sales; and Fiat dropped by 75% to just 91 sales. It must be worrying to FCA Canada, to see that the Pacifica had just 717 sales and the Caravan, once the country’s best seller, had 3,277. Indeed, within Canada, the only FCA vehicles with over a thousand sales for the month were the Ram, Caravan, Cherokee, Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, and Compass (in that order).

A full 84% of Canadian FCA sales came from Jeep, Ram, and the Caravan. That must be a sobering thought for FCA Canada officials — and Canadian Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo fans.

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