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Canadian sales are way up — and way down

by David Zatz on

FCA Canada’s headline read, “Jeep® Brand Sales Up 22 Per Cent Year-to-Date,” which is true, but not quite the full story. Dealers report increasing inventories, as buyers spurn some models but buy others.

Those suffering most, year to date, are the Journey, once Canada’s favorite crossover; it’s lost 56% of sales in the first half of the year, compared with January-June 2017. The ever-popular Caravan, once Canada’s favorite vehicle, dropped by 22%. All in all, Dodge fell from 44,730 sales to 33,322, with a single vehicle scoring a gain — the Durango rose by 7%, to 4,234.

The Pacifica rose by 30%, which sounds impressive, but the final total was 4,340 sales over six months — a gain of 1,010 minivans, not nearly enough to fill the Caravan’s 5,761-van shortfall.

Over at Ram, the news was far worse.  The Ram pickup has long been Chrysler Canada’s best seller, but it’s down 16% this year, to 48,659 sales — still more than all of Jeep combined (unlike the USA). The vans are down 10% and the ProMaster City is almost moribund, down 56%, with just 295 sold across all provinces and six months.

Needless to say, all of Fiat was a disaster area, with sales plummeting by 80%. One surprise was seeing the fun, capable Fiat 124 Spider — the “Fiata” — fall by 64%, with just 157 sold (around 27 cars/month). Just eight 500Ls found buyers. No surprise, then, that a rising Alfa Romeo outsold Fiat, 884 to 368. That’s not supposed to happen. At Alfa, Giulia sales rose by 71%, largely on availability; the new Stelvio accounted for 534 sales, taking the lion’s share, as it’s supposed to.

Chrysler, as a brand, dropped by 22%, which isn’t quite as bad as it sounds, since they sold 2,707 Chrysler 200s in Jan-June 2017 and zero this year. The 300 dropped by just 11%, with its 2,882 sales falling between the Charger (3,442) and Challenger (1,564).  All three big cars are built in Canada using American and Mexican engines and transmissions. Finally, Dodge fell by 26%; we mentioned the Journey and Caravan drops, which were joined by the Charger (down 8%) and Challenger (down by 31%). Dart and Viper sales also fell from “very few” to “almost none.”

That just leaves Jeep, and you can see why it was headlined by the FCA communications people. While the Grand Cherokee and Renegade both fell for the year (by 15% and 57%), that was definitely outshadowed by the near-doubling of Wrangler sales, from a third-place-within-Jeep to best-selling-Jeep status — with 16,396 sold (that’s more than Charger, Challenger, 300, Journey, and Pacifica combined). The Cherokee stayed stable, coming in at Jeep’s #2; and the Compass more than doubled in sales, increasing enough to compensate for the loss of the Patriot and then some. Jeep rose by 22% for the first half, and by 6% in June.

Canadian sales have been falling industry-wide for four months, and worries of a trade war may continue to hurt sales. While FCA could theoretically benefit, as the automaker with the highest proportion of Canadian production, the final product depends on a huge amount of imported parts, and Chrysler’s last engine plant left Canada long ago. Given Canada’s trade agreements with Asia-Pacific countries and the EU, a trade war could, ironically, hit FCA, Ford, and GM harder than Toyota, Honda, and Volkswagen.

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