Automotive News estimates that Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. fleet sales rose 4.8% in March to about 46,000 units. Retail sales also improved slightly, up 0.9% to 151,300 deliveries.
Strong fleet sales were the reason that total U.S. light vehicle sales were up 0.5% compared to March 2014. Without the extra March sales to rental and other fleet buyers, the monthly total would have been in the red.
FCA was the only one of the seven leading automakers to post increases in both retail and fleet sales. Of the former Big Three, it also had the smallest percentage of fleet sales compared to total sales, at about 23%.
Ford, which is still the most fleet-dependent of the leading automakers, saw its fleet volume drop 13.1% to 29% of all sales in March. The lost volume was the cause for Ford’s March sales being down 3.5% despite a 1.2% increase from the retail side.
General Motors 2.4% shortfall was entirely due to a 5.0% decline in retail deliveries: GM’s fleet sales were up 5.5% to 27% of total volume.
Toyota had the highest retail volume in March, but without the 67.8% increase in fleet deliveries, it would have come up short of last year in total sales. Toyota retail sales fell 1.9%.
American Honda missed its March 2014 numbers in both retail and fleet sales. Retail sales dipped 5.3% while fleet volume fell 7.4%. Fleet sales account for just 2% of Honda deliveries, so the fleet deficit didn’t have much impact on total results.
Nissan’s 0.8% growth in retail sales was wiped out by a 4,900-vehicle, or 16.7%, deficit in fleet sales.
Hyundai and Kia March sales record were driven by fleet sales. Combined retail turnover was down 1.3% but fleet sales soared 68.2% to 32,000 vehicles, just 2,600 fewer than Toyota.
Total fleet deliveries for the top seven car companies rose 6.9% in March while retail volume fell 1.7%.
Chrysler brands led the way to a 7% increase in total FCA of Mexico March deliveries.
Combined sales of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram cars and trucks were up 23%
Chrysler brand sales rose 23% to 308 units as deliveries of Chrysler 200 sedans soared 129% making last month the 200’s best March since 2011.
Dodge was the volume leader for the month with 2,159 sales. The Journey was the brand’s best-seller for the month, followed closely by the Attitude and Vision, rebadged Mitsubishi sedans.
Jeep dealers delivered 1,844 units during March. The Jeep Patriot brought in 501 of those sales, while the Grand Cherokee finished the month with 400 sales. The Jeep Wrangler posted sales of 267 units.
Ram sales were up 43% to 1,293 trucks, thanks in part to the popular Ram 700, which contributed 472 sales to the total.
Chrysler-brand vehicles made up 73% of FCA’s total March turnover.
Fiat sales were up 19% last month with the new Uno kicking in 226 of the brand’s 784 sales. A total of 383 Fiat 500s found new homes in March.
Six new Alfa Romeos left dealer lots in March.
Mitsubishi, which is distributed by FCA in Mexico, had its best March sales since 2009. Deliveries were up 37% to 1,289 units.
Auto industry forecasters see Fiat Chrysler notching a 60th month of year-over-year sales increases. However, there’s not much margin for error as two of the three sources predict total U.S. March sales will miss their numbers from a year ago by a small margin.
While March probably benefited from winter-storm-delayed sales, this month has one fewer selling days and, more important, one fewer weekends, than March 2014.
KBB.com sees FCA US sales rising 1.1% to 196,000 units while TrueCar.com pegs the increase at 1.8% and 197,500 sales.
Ward’s Auto is inclined to be more optimistic, looking for a 6.0% increase in FCA sales to over 205,000 and an 8.8% increase in March’s total light vehicle sales.
March 2014 was a tough act to follow. Total sales rose 13% and Chrysler Group brand sales were up 12.7% on a huge 46.9% jump in Jeep sales, while Dodge fell somewhat.
Jeep sales soared in Europe last month, rising 182% to 6,320 units as buyers snapped up the Italian-built Renegade.
The newest Jeep model has found the sweet spot in the European CUV/SUV market. In January, the Renegade accounted for 56.5% of all new Jeep deliveries with 3,307 units. According to FCA, Renegade sales were just under 4,000 in February.
Year-to-date (YTD) sales of Jeep brand vehicles were up 173.8% for the first two months of 2015. Both monthly and YTD growth rates easily beat those of all other brands reported by the ACEA, the European automobile manufacturers’ association.
Jeep’s market share more than doubled from 0.3% last year to 0.7% last month.
The increase in Jeep sales helped Fiat Chrysler Automobiles blow past both Ford and General Motors in February and outpace growth in the overall European market. It wasn’t quite enough to keep pace with the growth in the Italian market, the third-largest in the European Union.
FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES EUROPEAN SALES
Dodge, Ferrari, Maserati
Jeep was the only FCA brand to take a larger bite of the total market but it was enough of a bite to boost FCA’s total share of the European market.
According to Automotive News today, the former Chrysler kept its balance of U.S. retail and fleet sales stable compared with February 2014, with 75% of vehicles going to retail customers. This is a higher proportion than GM (73%) or Ford (70%), but lower than the top Japanese automakers (Toyota, 85%; Honda, 98%; Nissan, 80%).
Part of the difference between American and import makers is the reliance of GM, Ford, and FCA on pickup truck sales in the United States.
Chrysler increased both retail and fleet sales in roughly equal proportions since last year, with retail sales rising 6% and fleet sales rising 5% even as Rams flooded registration offices. Toyota saw retail sales drop ever so slightly, while fleet sales fell by 5.5%, presumably due to a shortage of F-150 pickups.
GM rebalanced towards fleet sales, a troubling sign unless pickups were being sold to traditional Ford commercial buyers; they saw a 1% gain in retail and a 12% gain in fleet.
The Big Four in retail were GM, Toyota, Ford, and FCA; in fleet, that order changes to GM, Ford, FCA, and Toyota. The numbers are fairly far apart in fleet, but in retail, Chrysler was just 2,000 units away from Ford. This is likely to change as F-150 production ramps up, unless Chrysler has something up their sleeves.
FCA US sales rose nearly 6% in February, to 163,586 vehicles — slightly below analyst expectations of 8.3% growth. That said, February 2014 was a tough act to follow: Jeep sales rocketed up 47% while Ram sales rose 28% in February 2014.
This marks the 59th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth, and the company’s best February since 2007.
Jeep’s 21% increase was the largest of any FCA US brand and set a February record for the brand.
The Chrysler 200’s 31% jump drove the brand’s growth for the month as sales of the 300 and Town & Country fell slightly.
Sales of current Dodge car models (Challenger, Charger, Dart and Viper) rose 32%, but the decline in sales of the discontinued Avenger and a big drop in the Grand Caravan and Durango left Dodge in the red.
All Jeeps posted healthy increases, led by a 59% explosion in sales of the Patriot, which recorded its best sales month ever.
Ram had another good month, including a triple-digit jump in sales of the Ram ProMaster and good sales for the Ram Cargo Van.
Eight FCA vehicles set February sales records: Jeep Cherokee, Wrangler and Compass, Dodge Challenger, Fiat 500L, Chrysler 200, Ram ProMaster, and Ram Cargo Van.
FCA US finished the month with an 85-day supply of inventory (577,277 cars and trucks).
It appears that FCA is having problems clearly communicating its Hellcat allocation process to both its dealers and its customers. In an attempt to once again shed some light on the way it works, FCA posted on its blog a re-clarification ( with a flow chart ) of the Hellcat allocation process.
This seems much clearer, and underlines that yes, any dealer can be allocated a Hellcat as long as they meet certain criteria. A sold order ( which would be verified ) would end up being placed in the queue as long as all other criteria are met.
This is good news for those dealers struggling to get a Hellcat for customers that have cash in hand, and are willing to commit to purchasing before the car is built. FCA however did take a slightly admonishing tone with some dealers who are over ordering. There is no way that a small non-performing dealer can sell 20 Hellcats, so don’t try to sell that many to your customers, because you will not get them. One a month ( Either Charger, or Challenger, not both ) will be allocated per dealer, even for sold orders. So effectively, that means a maximum of 12 Hellcats combined per year per dealer based on sold orders only, production restraints withstanding.
There will not be 20,000 Hellcat Chargers or Challengers produced this year, but there will be plenty more than the rumored 1,200. Our estimates put Challenger production totals at over 5,000, and Charger should be able to top 3,000 in this abbreviated launch year. That is 8,000 plus Hellcats to be spread out amongst FCA’s more than 2300 Dodge dealers.
Even though winter storms ravaged vehicle sales in some states and the price of regular gasoline rose 16%, analysts are still predicting strong February results when the numbers are released next Tuesday.
“Gas prices inched back up this month, but it didn’t appear to have much impact on shoppers’ choices,” said Edmunds.com’s Jessica Caldwell. “We’re still seeing a strong market for trucks and SUVs — especially compact crossover SUVs, which continue to ride an impressive wave of popularity. It is likely that the hard-hitting winter weather motivated some buyers to upgrade from their two-wheel drive vehicles.”
Allpar looked at by-manufacturer predictions from three major industry sources, Edmunds.com, KBB.com, and TrueCar.com. All three said that February’s big winners will be Toyota and Honda, but that FCA US will post the largest year-over-year increase of the three Detroit automakers, as well as notching its 69th consecutive month of year-over-year growth.
Based on the predictions, FCA’s market share will be essentially unchanged from February 2014.
The chart below shows the average of the three analyst outlooks.
AVERAGE ANALYST SALES FORECAST: FEBRUARY 2015
FCA US LLC (Chrysler)
Ford Motor Co.
Nissan North America
Toyota Motor Sales
TrueCar.com estimates that industrywide incentive spending fell 2.9% in February, so “Automakers should expect to post net revenue gains this month,” according to TrueCar analyst Eric Lyman.
FCA was second only to General Motors when it came to cash on the hood, but it wasn’t that far ahead of Kia, which TrueCar says outspent Ford on a per-unit basis.
Chrysler Canada has run up an astonishing 62 months of year-over-year growth. Admittedly, some of these months held larger gains than others, but it is a winning streak never before seen by the company, now titled FCA Canada.
The question is, how long can they keep the streak going? When sales would have flagged otherwise, they suddenly got the Cherokee. Renegades are reportedly still on their boats, heading for Baltimore and New York, and will take some time to reach Canadian dealerships — and even then, will not sell in large numbers, just because there aren’t all that many floating in.
Reports from within suggest that Chrysler Canada may end up with its record holding at 62 months (five years and two months) of growth, or, alternatively, squeaking by with a marginal “but still counting” increase. The January increase was quite small, but the, so were the 2013-vs-2012 increases in January and February 2013. As long as the company outsells February 2014, even by a single heavily discounted Dodge Caravan CVP, it’ll be ahead — keeping in mind there is one less selling day this month, due to leap year, and being a short 28-day month, that’s a big deal.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee was the best-selling vehicle in its class in Australia last year, and a new study released by Roy Morgan Research, Australia’s oldest and best-known market research company, provides some insight as to why.
While Australian car buyers rated fuel efficiency as the most important factor in a car-buying decision, purchasers of SUVs ranked mileage fifth and were more likely to consider a diesel engine than car buyers. More than that, SUV buyers desired a proven track record.
That may have led to the success of Grand Cherokee, which has an available V6 diesel in Australia as well as the US and Europe. Large SUV buyers told Roy Morgan Research they wanted all the extras as standard, and even the base Laredo has a nice list of standard features.
Jordan Pakes, Industry Director – Automotive at Roy Morgan Research, wrote, “The Grand Cherokee continued its prodigious rise over the last few years by moving from the segment’s number-four selling model in 2013 to the top seller in 2014, with 16,582 sales. This is an amazing result, given that Jeep sold only 441 Grand Cherokees in 2010, and is a true testament to the power of a unique and memorable advertising campaign combined with a strong new product appealing to buyers’ various needs.”
The January sales boost enjoyed by “Mopars” in January 2015 took place without changing the retail/fleet mix, according to figures released by Automotive News today.
Ford led the nation in the percentage of vehicles sold to fleets, as well as the absolute number of fleet sales (though by just 500). Ford sold 28% of their vehicles to fleets, while GM sold 26% to fleets, and FCA US sold 22% to fleets. Fleet sales vary from “keeping the factory busy” to being quite profitable.
Nissan has been increasing fleet sales, partly due to the cheap Versas in rental fleets and partly due to the success of its commercial vans. It leads Japanese brands in fleet sales by a large margin, selling 18,000 vehicles (19% of total sales) to fleets, roughly even to its January 2014 percentage. GM and Ford both increased the percentage of fleet sales this January, versus last January, while FCA US stayed stable.
Of the majors, the company least reliant on fleet sales has long been Honda, with a steady 98% of its sales at the retail level. This is partly because they have no work trucks in their lineup.
Jeep brand European sales skyrocketed 164.0% in January, thanks in large part to the new Jeep Renegade. Jeep sales growth outpaced every other brand in the European market and were entirely responsible for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ 5.8% increase compared to January 2014.
Jeep’s January market share nearly tripled, zooming from 0.23% in January 2014 to 0.57% this year.
Without Jeep’s 5,880 sales, FCA’s European deliveries would have actually fallen by 0.3%.
FCA this morning reported total European sales of 63,509 vehicles. Market share was down 0.03% from 6.20% in January 2014 to 6.17% last month but it was 60 basis points higher than December 2014.
The Group outpaced the industry in nearly every major European market. January sales were up 11.3% in Italy (versus 10.9% for the industry), 4.0% in Germany (vs 2.6%), 9.9% in France (vs 6.2%) and 45.1% in Spain (vs 27.4%). In the UK, where total deliveries were up 6.7%, FCA sales rose 1.9%.
One big exception was Italy, where registrations rose 10.9%. FCA’s share of its home market fell from 50.67% to 48.34%.
Fiat brand January sales rose 3.6% last month. Market share was 4.61%, down 0.12% from last January. Brand sales came in 9.5% ahead of last year in Italy, 6.1% in France and 54.6% in Spain.
The Fiat 500 and Panda remained the top-selling vehicles in the European A segment. That makes it 25 consecutive months that a Fiat brand vehicle has held the top position. The 14,000 Fiat 500s were delivered while Panda registrations came to 13,000 vehicles.
The 500L led the small MPV segment with nearly 7,800 vehicles sold. Share increased to an all-time high of 24.7%. It took less than a month for the Fiat 500X (currently available only in Italy) to hit the top ten in its segment.
Lancia/Chrysler deliveries were down 18.8% to 5,578 vehicles. In Italy, the Lancia Ypsilon was the fourth best-selling car overall and runner up in the B segment.
Alfa Romeo ended the month with sales totaling 4,000 vehicles, a drop of 11.1%. Home-market sales rose 2.6%
For Ferrari and Maserati, the Group’s luxury brands, combined sales in Europe totaled 660 vehicles, down slightly from January 2014. There were also five Dodge brand vehicle sales, which aren’t reported by FCA Italy.
While January European registration figures won’t be released until tomorrow, it’s already a safe bet to assume the new Jeep Renegade will be one of the best-sellers for FCA Italy.
December by-model figures show the Italian-built Renegade was the hottest Chrysler Group vehicle, outselling all other Jeep models combined and easily outpacing the various Chrysler and Dodge brand vehicles, even when the Lancia Flavia, Thema and Voyager are included in the total.
The figures below include Chrysler-built vehicles sold under the Fiat and Lancia brands.
EUROPEAN SALES OF CHRYSLER GROUP VEHICLES
Voyager/Town & Country
Note: Dodge brand vehicles are not sold through FCA Italy. They are sold through gray market importers. Popular Dodge models in Europe are the Durango and Challenger.
January was an impressive month. Not only was it FCA/Chrysler’s 58th consecutive month of sales improvements, it was the industry’s best January since 2001.
While FCA’s 14.0% sales growth was the smallest of the Detroit 3, it beat last January’s 8.0% gain. In addition, the 14.3% increase in sales of the four Chrysler brands is much better than the 7.6% gain posted last year, when Dodge took a big hit. This year, all the FCA brands beat their year-ago numbers.
FCA’s market share increased slightly, growing from 12.5% to 12.6% of the light vehicle market.
The Chrysler 200 was one of the top ten best-selling passenger cars in January. The Ram pickup was No. 3, not only among pickups, but among all vehicles. The Jeep Cherokee was on the top-ten-trucks list, coming in just ahead of the Ford Explorer. All three were among the top 20 light vehicles in January. The Jeep Grand Cherokee was just outside the list at No. 21.
JANUARY’S U.S. TOP TENS
Data Source: Manufacturer’s reported sales
Jeep was the top-selling brand of crossovers and SUVs in January, beating Ford by about 3,000 sales. General Motors was the top automaker in the segment and Subaru had the highest average sales per model, but FCA was second in both categories. FCA averaged 7,889 sales per model, while Ford averaged 5,273 and GM averaged 4,991.
CUV/SUV SALES: JANUARY 2015
FCA US LLC
Ford Motor Co.
Toyota Motor Sales
Nissan North America
Data Source: Manufacturer’s reported sales
The Dodge Charger repeated as the runner-up to the Chevy Impala in the full-size car segment and the Dart had a nice jump in sales, posting not only its best January but its fourth-best sales month since it was introduced.
After a big finish to 2014, the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan had a small start to 2015, finishing third and fourth, respectively, in the rankings. The Toyota Sienna took the top spot, followed by the Honda Odyssey. FCA still remains the leading minivan manufacturer. None of the minivan models broke the 9,000-sale mark last month.
Sales of the Fiat 500 fell by 107 units while sales of the Fiat 500L rose by 140 units so Fiat brand sales were in the black by 33 500Ls. The 500X should light a fire under Fiat sales when it makes its debut later this year.
According to numbers released by Desrosiers Automotive Consulting, FCA was the top-selling automaker in Canada last month, beating No. 2 Ford by 3,472 sales and coming in 6,477 sales ahead of General Motors, which beat Toyota to the No. 3 spot by 55 sales.
Looking at year-over-year growth, Chrysler was the top-performing brand, thanks to the Chrysler 200 and a 179.7% increase in Town & Country sales.
Jeep was next; big jumps in deliveries of the Patriot and Wrangler covered a small drop posted by the Grand Cherokee. As was true in the U.S., the Cherokee was the most popular Jeep with Canadian buyers last month.
When it comes to bringing home the bacon, the Ram brand is still the champ. By itself, the Ram pickup accounted for 32.8% of Chrysler Canada’s total sales.
Dodge took a big hit as sales of the Dart, Journey and Durango plunged, wiping out a triple-digit gain in Challenger sales and a 22.6% increase in Grand Caravan deliveries.
Fiat sales fell by more than half in January: sales of the Cinquecento were down by more than two-thirds as just 248 Fiat-badged vehicles were sold last month.
The sharp declines in sales of Dodge and Fiat vehicles isn’t too surprising: Chrysler Canada cars sales fell by 34.7% in January. Car sales made up just 9.7% of of total turnover.