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FCA US sales down, new incentives and digital sales announced (updated)

by David Zatz on

FCA US sales dropped by 10% for the first quarter, as strong momentum in January and February was clobbered by the coronavirus in March. In some states, dealership sales were banned completely in mid-month; by then, many or most dealers had already taken steps including extra sanitizing protocols and providing their best price up front, to cut haggling time and, in turn, reduce the number of people in showrooms.

Q1-US

FCA US sales fell from 498,425 in Q1 2019 to 446,768 in Q1 2020. The percentage of fleet sales grew dramatically, reaching 31% of total sales. From 2012 to 2019, the fleet share was never more than 26%; in 2017, FCA US was down to 19% for the year.  Some of that may have been positive news, due to the inexpensive Ram 1500 “DS” still being on sale.

Retail sales were 306,898 out of 446,768 total.

New incentives and digital sales

“Drive Forward” provides consumers with incentives and a new Online Retail Experience (ORE). FCA US vehicles (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram Truck, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo) will offer 24/7 support; well-qualified buyers can get 0% financing for 84 months and no payments for 90 days on select 2019 and 2020 models. Pacifica Family Pricing and Dodge Power Dollars are both intengrated into Drive Forward.

drive forward

ORE is essentially online sales; buyers can get a vehicle off a dealer lot, arrange for a trade-in, apply for credit, get price and payment estimates, and review service protection plan options. The process starts on the various brand sites; when they are done, they can contact a local dealer or the call center.

U.S. sales detail

Ram sales rose by 7%, hitting 128,805 vehicles; Ram as a whole rose 3% to 140,486. The Pacifica rose 5%, to 24,525, and the Gladiator hit 15,259, a good number for a relatively pricey niche vehicle.

So much for the good news.

The worst pounding was taken yet again by Fiat, which somehow managed by fall by 49%. Every Fiat plummeted in sales, but the 500X was hit hardest, reaching just 283 sales over around 90 days. The 124 Spider is now Fiat’s sales leader, with 388 sales across the country; the brand as a whole managed only 1,128 sales, less than any Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, or Dodge (unless you count three 200s,  three Darts, and one Patriot that must have been lost on various dealer lots.)

The next hardest-hit brand was Dodge, falling by 20%; but really Dodge didn’t do so badly if you skip the discontinued Caravan and Journey, which fell by 30% and 37%, respectively. The Charger and Caravan only dropped by 10% each, and the Durango gained by 5%. Plummeting fuel prices likely hurt Fiat and helped Dodge.

Did those Caravan customers buy Pacificas? No, not really. The Caravan lost 10,000 buyers and the Pacifica, which presumably includes the Voyager, only gained 1,250 or so. It looks like Plymouth all over again, but with the coronavirus, it’s hard to tell for sure. We don’t know why Chrysler isn’t breaking out the Voyager, and my last emails weren’t returned, so I’m not asking.

2020 Chrysler Voyager

Jeep was a mixed bag, down 14% overall; the Wrangler dropped by 10,000 but the new Gladiator gained 15,100 or so. Chances are many Gladiator sales are borrowed from the Wrangler but more are not. The Grand Cherokee only fell by 13%, not bad given the circumstances. The Cherokee dropped by 32%, though; Wrangler by 21%; Renegade by 22%; and Compass by 20%. There’s no clear pattern here, but whatever the cause the Grand Cherokee is clearly the sales leader with 50,083 purchases while the Wrangler is now a distant #2 with 39,668. It’s not a close race for 1, 2, and 3 at Jeep.

Alfa Romeo continues to be a disaster in the US; the Stelvio is a very nice ride and the Giulia is uniquely set up as a driver’s car, but neither is really selling. Giulia fell by just 14% and Stelvio by 13%, which isn’t bad considering the conditions, but sales weren’t high to begin with. The Stelvio remains the top seller at 1,913 and Giulia’s close behind at 1,759, but again, this is for the entire USA for three months; neither car beat the worst-selling C/D/J/R (ProMaster City), though both beat all four Fiats combined.

Finally, Ram posted a nice gain, likely due to fleet sales, but the ProMaster Van fell by 28% and the ProMaster City fell by 43%. The strategy of keeping the old “DS” 1500 into the 2020 model year has succeeded quite well; among other things, it must hurt Ford, whose pricey aluminum bodies have to go up against prior-generation Rams whose tooling and development costs have long been paid off, and the new premium “DT” 1500s. Ford isn’t losing a lot of sales to Ram, but the price-matching has to eat into their profits.

 


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