It's been over a week since FCA US released its November and year-to-date sales figures, and time for some reflection.

November was good to FCA, with Ram outselling the Chevy Silverado (though not Chevy+GMC), Challenger jumping into the #1 place in muscle-car sales, and Jeep holding the lead for the best-selling SUV brand.

FCA was still the #3-seller of the Detroit 3, but by a much smaller margin than in the past.  The former Chrysler hasn’t gotten bigger, so much as GM and Ford have shrunk. GM had an estimated quarter-million sales in November, and Ford was down 7% to 195,255; FCA hit 181,131, thanks to a 17% boost.  FCA came fairly close to Toyota, as well; Toyota took the #3 spot, with 190,423 sales, fairly even with November 2017.

What counts, though, is sustaining the sales, and not relying on giveaways and bargain prices. It appears that FCA may have shut off the bargain-basement strategy up in Canada , slamming sales but making the business more sustainable (and more in line with FCA’s global strategy).

For the full year, FCA is up by 8% while Ford is down 3%, GM around 1%, and Toyota 0.3% (in other words, it’s flat). Toyota has fought to keep its Corolla sales up largely as Fiat tried to make the 500 more attractive, by adding features; the old-gen Corolla comes with an absurd amount of safety gear and convenience features, at the same price as the car sold for before (and Fiat 500s get a free turbo and other gear).

challenger redeye

Year to date, Dodge has sold 72,933 Chargers, 62,560 Challengers, and 43,100 300s—all basically the same car under the skin, and if you add them up, you get 178,593, which is definitely profit territory and would be enough to earn them a #9 spot (above the Fusion’s 157,548). The top four cars are, as usual, the Camry, Civic, Accord, and Corolla; Toyota sold 313,346 Camrys despite the “death of the car.” (That’s good enough to beat any vehicle sold in America save for  pickups, the RAV4, the Rogue, and the CR-V.)

In any case, the Challenger’s year-to-date number is close to the Mustang (71,450), and well above the Camaro (around 47,000). It’s even above the Mazda3 .  The Charger easily beat the Impala (around 54,000) and clobbered the Avalon (31,042) along with any Mercedes or BMW.

In SUVs, Jeep’s panoply of vehicles seems to have paid off; the top selling Jeep is just #7 in SUV sales, but Jeep as a whole managed to be #1. (The top models are the RAV4, 388,501; the Rogue, CRV, Equinox, Escape, and Toyota Highlander).  All of the Jeeps except the Renegade are clustered together in a little pack of good sellers, and even the Renegade is on track to beat 100,000 sales this year. The Dodge Journey, aged though it is, might even make it.

Jeep Wrangler Moab Edition

Jeep arguably has the best selling actual SUV—the more popular vehicles are all crossovers with dubious off-road merit.

You can see why pickups are so important, though, when you look at the numbers there — around 822,000 Fords, 520,000 Chevys, 477,000 Rams, and hundreds of thousands of Tacomas, Sierras, Colorados, and such. Even the overpriced, underpowered, inefficient Tundra beat 100,000 already. (The bottom in sales, some people may be happy to know, is the Honda Ridgeline.)

Americans do love pickups—and Americans have lots of choices, with over 300 different nameplates to choose from. Roughly half of those choices are cars, even as SUVs and crossovers have gotten more popular, so it’s no surprise that car nameplates are dropping like flies.

Thanks to Bill Cawthon for his insights and data.