By on January 5, 2009

Earlier today, we reported that rental fleet sales had fallen by 500k units in the last 12 months. Clever members of our Best and Brightest connected the dots, and wondered where that would leave the fleet queen herself, the New Chrysler Corporation. “Total sales were significantly affected by the industry’s largest reductions in fleet sales,” the official press release almost boasts. “63 percent for December and 31 percent for the year.” Yes, well, the retail end of the business wasn’t that much better; tanking by a full 53 percent. Needless to say Jim Press quickly sacrificed the last remaining shreds of his credibility to toe the company line and collect the company paycheck. ““Last year Chrysler and all of our stakeholders persevered through extraordinarily difficult economic conditions, made the necessary adjustments and always kept our focus on serving our customers,” said Jim Press, President and Vice Chairman, Chrysler LLC. “As a result, our Company and our dealer network start this year stronger and better positioned to succeed in today’s marketplace.” Let’s have a little look at where that might be…

The Chrysler brand itself– should such a thing exist in any meaningful sense of the word “brand”– dropped by 38 percent vs. last December. Get this (or don’t as is more likely the case: the Crossfire was the least worst seller, shedding “just” 39 percent. Of the vehicles they still make, the Town and Country holds that honor, sliding by a relatively healthy 43 percent. You know, in comparison to the 300 and the Sebring, down 61 and 63 percent respectively.

Jeep-wise the Wrangler was as good as it gets, rolling downhill by 22 percent. The TTAC award-winning (Ten Worst) Compass fell off the map (-63 percent), with the Liberty (-54 percent) and Patriot (-48 percent) following closely behind.

Good Lord, Dodge is a basket case. ChryCo better hope it’s the Journey that counts (up 3822 to 4275). ‘Cause otherwise, well, ouch. Save the discontinued Viper, everything else is just sitting there: Caliber (-67%), Avenger (-75%), Charger (-51%), Caravan (-67%), Magnum (-99%), Nitro (-72%) and Sprinter (-31%).

Bottom line: Chrysler wouldn’t have received a dime in federal loans if these numbers had come out a few days earlier.

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41 Comments on “Chrysler’s December Sales Fall 53%...”


  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Holy hell!

    Still think that the US government will get that bailout money back…?

    N.B: For the record, I WANTED Chrysler to succeed.

  • avatar
    50merc

    If this trend continues, Chrysler better start worrying.

  • avatar

    That’s all?

    I really thought that the government would demonstrate that it possessed some powers of discrimination by excluding Chrysler from the loans. But no. And they’re clearly in the weakest position.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    …and down 30% across the board for 2008. Ouch!

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    If they haven’t got there yet, at some point sales will fall to point that no matter what Chrysler does they’ll be running their factories at a loss. In other words, the hole will get even deeper before liquidation becomes inevitable.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Does anyone know what will happen to Warranty’s and extended ones when this Company goes down?

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    They will become low quality toilet paper.

    Ask the folks who bought Daewoos.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Just out of curiosity, how were 2007 Chrysler sales compared to 2006?

    Anyone? Bueller?

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    If Chrysler Corp’s sales dropped by 53%, how can Chrysler brand’s sales drop by 38%, Jeep’s by 30%, and Dodge’s by 26%? That is, how can the whole drop by more than every one of it’s parts?

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    For this, congress stole our money?

  • avatar
    50merc

    “our Company and our dealer network start this year stronger and better positioned to succeed”

    Huh? Oh yeah, because there’s no place to go but up. If you don’t consider “out.”

    Chrysler insiders must be feeling like they’re running Kaiser Motors in 1955.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    If I am reading it right, the sales by brand are for retail sales, while fleet sales across brands are bunched as one, and dragged the total sales down.

    Any word on whether these are adjusted sales day numbers or straight comparison?

  • avatar
    bluecon

    The only way to fix this is for the new Obama administration to give(loan?) them more money.

  • avatar
    billc83

    I don’t even think that will fix it…

  • avatar
    mtypex

    For those tracking the Chrysler brand, the Aspen is confirmed dead after 2009 and the PT Cruiser will probably join it. The Sebring sedan is de facto dead, except for the Limited model in retail stores and whatever they produce for the rental fleets. That leaves the Town & Country, the Sebring convertible, and the 300.

    I’ve never cared for Chrysler minivans or the LX sedans. The LHS cars were much better, and the new minivans look like they pulled something back out of the 1980s. The Sebring convertible survives because the Solara is nearing the end of production and the G6 isn’t very good either.

    Meanwhile, down here in Illinois, it looks like the Mitsubishi Endeavor is dead. They should cancel Project America (Eclipse/Galant/Endeavor) platform production and produce Lancers and Outlanders in the US, and base the new Eclipse off of the Lancer.

    Or, we could kill off Mitsubishi with Chrysler in the US market. As Ferris Bueller once put it in a monologue, “I mean, really, what’s the point?” The point of being small and different is to be better, and Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep and Mitsubishi are not better than the competition. Isuzu is gone, Subaru and Suzuki have found niches … the weak die off and let the strong survive.

    I’m preaching to the choir – the US government bailed out the crappy legacy airlines and the automakers are now there too.

  • avatar
    Blobinski

    What products would Chrysler have to offer in the next 24 months that would turn sales around? Have they used their silver bullet? The future continues to look darker and darker for them.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Jeez, the lowest drop off is on the lame duck Crossfire? Even for the $19,999 or whatever that the new Crossfires are selling for a $16,491 Mustang V6 is still a way better deal.

    With cheap gas the sales of the LX cars should have been stronger, the public must realize that this is a dead company.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    If (when?) CryCo stops circling the drain and finally drops, I would be extremely surprised if someone didn’t step in on the factory warranties. There is a big difference between Cry’s buyers and Daewoo’s – a significant customer base.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Have they sold all the 2006 Crossfires yet?

  • avatar
    Blobinski

    The picture of the Crossfire was great RF…I thought it was neat to include a pic from years past…until I searched and found they still made 2008 models. Are they serious?! I just can’t believe that! They are selling as much as $12K off sticker. What in the world is their plan for the next 5 years (assuming they stick around)? Keep the Nitro, Durango and Caliber hanging on?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I want my money back. Maybe we should put our nickels together and put an ad in the WSJ and the Old Gray Lady demanding such.

  • avatar

    Relax. Come March, they’ll get even more money. They’re not worrying.

    Apparently, people have figured out that while they need cars, they don’t necessarily need a new one every single year, nor do they need 3,5 in the garage.

    I think we will be seeing the Bailout-Fallout in the January numbers. Quite a lot of tax payers are POed that they have been forced to make a substantial down-payment on the cars they didn’t want in the first place.

  • avatar
    Happy_Endings

    I guess the “it” that they like to move in their commercials evidently isn’t product, no matter what Reel 2 Real say about it.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I have so little faith in the ability of a typical Chrysler dealer to weather the storm that last week, I did not put my Grand Caravan in the shop for an oil change and routine service because I didn’t want to risk having the car in the shop on the day they shut down, locked up and went Chapter 11. (ala Bill Heard Chev)

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “I didn’t want to risk having the car in the shop on the day they shut down, locked up and went Chapter 11.”

    You could claim it as a theft and under your comprehensive coverage. You might be better off.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    Down only 53%? That is pretty good. I actually expected worse. They must be really giving them away because you would really have to be out of it to buy a Chrysler product right now.

  • avatar
    eh_political

    http://blog.chryslerllc.com/blog.do?id=564&p=entry

    The blog comments remain. Still. I am going to stay with this until the comments are stricken, and then let everyone know. Does anyone doubt that once someone clues in, this expression of taxpayer outrage will be disappeared? In any event, it’s scary how long it’s taking for things to play out.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    eh_political:

    I was taking a look at those comments on the blog link you gave. I noticed that several posts by different people all are posted exactly the same minute, and then hours go by, then several posts happen again on the same minute or two. Lots of the posts have the same writing style as well. Could it be a person or small group of people just going to town on that blog. Just wondering.

  • avatar
    eh_political

    @npbheights :

    It would not surprise me one bit if there was some shenanigans around posts to the Chrysler blog. After all, who reads a corporate blog of this nature?

    To me, the issue is that there is a lack of moderation or supervision. People responsible for it are asleep at the switch. When they do wake up, the comments will vanish.

    It’s an extremely lame PR effort, and the blowback is significant, even accounting for multiple postings.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    @eh_political

    I see your point. If you are going to allow anybody to say anything on your website, it’s a good idea to moderate it. I have to admit, I would have never even looked for a blog on Chrysler’s website and I doubt many of their customers would either. I found the indepth explaination of the $2.99 gas guarantee amusing too. Just another example of a Chrysler asleep at the switch. (great term btw) I wonder what its like there, the last days at a dying car company…. like the summer of 1957 at Packard… well it cant be that romantic, this is Chrysler we are talking about…

  • avatar
    Toad

    psarhjinian:

    There are still “new” 2006 Crossfires at Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep (metro Charlotte, NC). I saw at least 2 with the window stickers still in them while waiting on an oil change. If I remember correctly these cars were originally delivered to this dealer, not dealer trades. I can’t imagine what the floor plan cost has been for the past 3 years. Ouch.

    They are still listed on their website: http://www.lakenormanchrysler.com/new-inventory/

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    @seabrjim

    That’s the US President, not Congress.

  • avatar
    AlphaWolf

    I want to see Chrysler succeed, but I have to say things keep getting darker day by day. What the heck is in the pipeline that can save them?

    Perhaps a “pricing America” deal needs to happen, all Sebrings/Avengers with upgraded interiors now $12,999, no haggle. Maybe let people buy the cars over the internet and just pick up the keys/car. Advertise the heck out of that for a while.

    Chrysler/Dodge marketing folks are you listening? You would of have a hit seller (again) if you totally redesigned the PT Cruiser for 09, with a new fuel sipping engine.

  • avatar
    Boston

    I’d like a reporter to ask G.W. at his next press conference about Chrysler’s sales to see if he has even the slightest clue which I doubt.

  • avatar
    Kurt.

    If the Magnum is down 99%…what does that make – 10 cars? Fleet sales should have made more that that!

    I appreciate the Magnum – the only American stationwagon left (not counting SUV/CUV’s).

    I am also sad to see the PT Cruiser go. Had one as a rental and put 4,000 miles on it. Except for limited cargo space, it was a very comfortable econobox.

    IMO, Chrysler needs to give up trying to be a member of the Big Boys and focus on the areas it has share – Become a nitch player. Build the Viper, Challenger R/T, Charger R/T, PT Cruiser, Crossfire*, Magnum, Jeep Wrangler, Large Trucks and maybe the Minivan (I can’t believe I said that!). Drop everything else. Chrysler should not try to compete with the Rising Sun.

    Now that gas is cheap again, credit markets will someday thaw and people will not care about the econboxes…again. Make money now, worry about the future later – when you have secured one!

  • avatar
    npbheights

    @ kurt

    The magnum was discontinued when Cerberus took over. Those ten cars sold were probably sitting around for a year or so. They may have been 07’s. Or very early 08’s

    @alphawolf

    You can probably get a new Sebring for about 13k now with minimal haggling. Still too high in my opinion, and by the sales figures, looks like a lot of people agree.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    There are still “new” 2006 Crossfires at Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep (metro Charlotte, NC).

    Damn…

    I sort of like the Crossfire. I can’t justify owning one, and I’ve no love for Mercedes, ahem, quality, even at that price, but it’s tempting.

  • avatar
    NickR

    The Viper was discontinued? Maybe I am out to lunch but I didn’t know that. Any stats on the Challenger?

  • avatar
    Kurt.

    And I forgot to foot note my *:

    I really don’t like the Crossfire, however if it is Chryslers best seller…then I guess someone is willing to pay for it and it should be kept.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Two weeks ago I saw a Crossfire parked on a slant taking up two spaces to prevent anybody parking next to him and damaging his car I guess. I commented to my wife, does this guy have a clue what the value of that car is, then laughed?

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    I think Kurt has the right idea – a niche player.

    Build a limited line of cars with no duplicates.

    Make them the best of their kind.

    A few FWDs and a few RWDs. Throw in a station wagon there (not a Magnum but more like a Passat/Audi).

    I too want Chrysler to succeed though I have never owned one of their products. Just like GM they never had enough quality for me to keep one for 200K miles.

    I think all three Detroit corps would do well to ditch the unions, top level management, and the dealer network as we know it today. I can’t afford any of their shenanagons.

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