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FCA’s surprise sales hikes in the US and Canada (updated)

by David Zatz on

FCA US posted a surprise sales hike in May 2019, as Ram had its 12th consecutively monthly sales record, and Grand Cherokee set a new May record—just in time for a new factory. While FCA US only beat last May by 2%, it was enough to claim the “highest sales since 2008” prize.

Fleet sales were a major part of the U.S. story, hitting a worrisome 31% of the total, but FCA also had higher average transaction prices, which is a good sign.

THE CANADIAN STORY

FCA Canada reported May 2019 sales of 21,042, making May the best month of 2019 (so far). Fleet sales were down 43% from May 2018, but were still over a third of the total (5,770 of 15,272). Heavy Duty trucks doubled in sales, hitting 2,699, but Ram 1500 took a dive. Retail sales of the Caravan shot up from from 1,414 to 1,800, but total Caravan sales fell by 27%, while Pacifica sales fell by 25%; they sold over four times as many Caravans as Pacificas.  300 sales plummeted by 82%, down to 163 (still enough to beat Fiat+Alfa), while Charger fell by half to 403 and Challenger fell by 25% to 307.

The overall winner for the month was the Wrangler, up 19%; every other car except Alfa 4C fell by double digits. Jeep as a whole was down 18%, Chrysler by 56%, Dodge by 33%, Ram by 22%,  Alfa by 45%, and Fiat, with just 59 sales for the month (more than half 124s), down 35%. Overall, sales were down by 25% for the month, and by 14% for the year.

This is not all bad news; FCA Canada is clearly weaning itself from excessive fleet sales, sacrificing volume for profits. Overall, that should be good for the reputations of the brands and for the health of the company.

THE US STORY

The star of the month was Ram, which posted a 29% increase on the back of a 33% gain in pickup sales, dragged down slightly by an 11% drop in ProMasters. The ProMaster City had a 20% gain, but that’s just over a hundred small vans, in comparison to a gain of 15,469 pickups and Ram 3500-5500 chassis-cabs.

Jeep, which remains FCA US’ biggest seller, had a 7% drop, largely due to Cherokee (down 27%), Compass (down 16%), and Renegade (down 37%); on the lighter side, the profitable Grand Cherokee rose by 18% and Wrangler essentially held steady with a 2% drop. The increase in Gladiator sales (2,584) was greater than the loss in Wrangler sales (down by around 600).

The news at Dodge was fairly good, with a 3% overall gain. The Charger’s gain more than overcame the Challenger’s loss; the Caravan and Durango both had good months (Caravan was up by 9%), overcoming a 30% drop in Journey sales. Journey is still doing quite well for a vehicle that hasn’t really been substantially updated since 2011.

The bad news came from the usual places, including both of FCA’s eponymous brands: Chrysler, down 26%; Fiat, down 29%; and Alfa Romeo, down 34%. Chrysler saw similar losses on 300 and Pacifica, each down by around a quarter; the old Caravan, rumored to be ending production in 2020, outsold Pacifica by a factor of 2:1.  The Charger passed the 300 by around 3:1. Even the “niche” Challenger more than doubled 300 sales.

At Fiat, the 124 somehow managed to overcome 500 sales, even though the 500 was up by 27% for the month and the 124 was down by 18%. The 500L eked out a miserable 69 sales despite a successful overhaul, and the X, supposedly the most mainstream Fiat, had just 272 sales. Alfa, despite being down by 34%, once again easily passed Fiat sales. Oddly, again, the relatively niche Giulia sold better than the more mainstream Stelvio.

In Mexico, FCA reported 5,241 sales; Ram had the best May sales in its history, with 2,285 sales. Dodge, overall, had 1,310 sales, but the rebadged Attitude was responsible for 928 of those. Jeep had just 959 sales all together, Fiat 618, Chrysler 55, and Alfa Romeo, 14. Traditionally, May FCA sales in Mexico have topped 7,000.


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