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FCA US boasts sales increase in tough markets (updated)

by David Zatz on

The market is tougher than ever, but FCA US still managed to boost sales by 2% (around 3,200 sales). Part of that, though, was an increase in fleet sales, to 23% of the total. Fleet sales had been 28% of the total in January 2017, but dropped to 16% in January 2018. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; fleet sales may be from a few corporations (or the United States) buying a lot of Rams or Jeeps.

In Canada, FCA reported a 20% drop, due largely to reduced sales to rental agencies. Jeep was down by 35%, though (Wrangler was hit hardest, followed by Cherokee); Chrysler fell by 46% with 300 and Pacifica barely registering on the charts; Dodge was down 27%, with a huge 43% hit to its best seller, the Caravan (which remained its best seller with just 1,947 sales); Alfa Romeo was down 59%, wtih Giulia and Stelvio both hit hard; and Fiat was down 14%, but with just 36 sales, there’s not far to go. The one bright spot was Ram, which rose by 9%; they sold 5,496 Ram pickups and chassis-cabs. Ram easily outsold Jeep plus Chrysler plus Alfa plus Fiat.

FCA US had 111,577 retail sales in January 2018; last month, they had 104,290. However, January finished off with regional warnings of snow and harsh weather, then frigid temperatures, which may have cut sales by more than the 7,300-car shortfall. Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales, reported that “We expect a good cadence of new product throughout the year led by our Ram heavy-duty pickup trucks and Jeep® Gladiator midsize truck in the first half of this year.”

Generally, the trends of the last few months held true; Ram did quite well, Jeep and Dodge essentially held steady, and Chrysler and Fiat fell. Alfa Romeo also fell, though, in what must be a worrying moment—the drop was 30%, to just 1,150 vehicles. Possibly, fears of snow (and actual snow) hurt the rear-drive-based cars. Fiat also continued to plummet, falling 39% to just 751 cars, despite major improvements to the lineup.

The sales leader for the month, in total sales, was the Ram pickups, with 34,889 sales; coming in with less than half that number were the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, within a hundred sales of each other, at a little over 15,000 each (that’s a gain for the Cherokee and a loss for the Grand). The Wrangler (13,024) and Compass (10,298) were the only other FCA US vehicles to beat 10,000 sales.

In terms of gains and losses, the Ram was again the leader, with a 19% gain despite already being the best seller. The Journey had the highest percentage gain, 115%, with total sales of 7,232, making it the best-selling Dodge (the image leaders, Charger and Challenger, came in at 5,210 and 3,230).   Wrangler also did well, with an 11% gain; and ProMaster sales doubled, to 3,759.

The downers abounded this month. Among the American brnads, the Renegade dropped by 27%, the Caravan by a stunning 32%, the Durango by 17%, and the Pacifica by 13%, despite some good press. 300 sales were down 10%, to just 2,078 cars, making it the least popular of the L-series.

The big downers were on the Italian side; aside from the Renegade, every conventional Fiat fell by  over 40%, and the Spider fell by 13% (with 160 sales, though, it came in at nearly triple the 500L’s volume). The 500X beat the 500, but the Alfa Romeo Giulia—despite having lost 44% of sales from January 2018—managed to come close to the 500X sales with the 500 added in (531 total). Once again, the most popular Alfa was the Stelvio crossover, with 612 sales—down by 11%.

It was a mixed month for FCA, but it’s tough all over; Automotive News reported that Honda’s quarterly profit fell by 40% as it jacked up incentive spending, an unusual move for the normally less-discounted automaker. Analysts are generally expecting auto sales to come in low for January.


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