By on October 1, 2009

Color me gone...

The bailout babies of the US auto industry took a pummeling in the post-Cash For Clunkers sales environment, as Chrysler very nearly matched GM’s precipitous decline. Unlike GM though, Chrysler isn’t predicting a turnaround by year’s end. “We believe the remainder of 2009 will continue to be a challenge for the U.S. automotive market,” says Chrysler brand boss Peter Fong [via PRNewswire]. “Credit markets have thawed slightly, but still remain tight, and consumer confidence, as we saw in September, is tenuous.” And yet nothing seems to be quite as tenuous as Chrysler’s grip on its razor-thin market share.

By brand, only Jeep managed to avoid total collapse, as sales of the off-road brand fell a dainty 20 percent. Dodge slid a significant 43 percent, showing why Fiat is reportedly considering stripping off the Ram truck brand and selling it off if things don’t improve. Meanwhile, the Chrysler brand showed why rumors of its brandicide continue to persist, falling a staggering 61 percent.

Quick, name the only Chrysler-branded nameplate to increase its sales over last September. Give up? The Crossfire, which sold 127 units to last September’s 113. And that, folks, is as good as it gets. 300 dropped 20 percent, while Town and Country fell 61 percent. Sebring shed 73 percent of its sales, while PT Cruiser and Aspen dropped 89 percent each. That Fiat executives believe a few facelifts can turn these numbers around is testament to either their faith in ChryCo’s design teams or the quality of the intoxicants in which they indulge.

Quick, name the only Jeep-branded nameplate to increase its sales over last September. Give up? The Grand Cherokee, which surprisingly added 23 percent to its sales, hitting a monthly volume of 5,601. Otherwise, Wrangler was down 2 percent, Commander fell six percent, Liberty dropped 45 percent, Patriot slid 57 percent and Compass was off by 90 percent.

Quick, name the only Dodge-branded nameplate to increase its sales over last September. Give up? It was a trick question. Sprinter and Charger were best-off with four percent and eight percent declines respectively. Challenger fell by 25 percent, Ram was down 35 percent, Avenger and Dakota were off by 36 percent, Journey fell 38 percent, Nitro dropped 55 percent, Caravan fell 63 percent and Caliber plummeted 89 percent to 654 units.

Where does Chrysler Group go from here? Though it seems that there’s nowhere to go but up, the reverse is likely to be the case. The Chrysler brand is every bit as damaged at this point as Saab or Hummer. No product in the firm’s entire portfolio has been able to maintain steady sales month-to-month. And with future product plans materializing in the form of quickie reskins, there’s absolutely no reason to believe the bleeding will stop anytime soon. Year-to-date, only the Journey, Wrangler, Ram and Challenger have failed to decline by 30 percent or more. That’s the sum total of Chrysler’s “success” in 2009, and it’s nowhere near enough to keep the company going.

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33 Comments on “Chrysler September Sales Plummet 42 Percent...”


  • avatar

    Well, since Chrysler doesn’t produce a single vehicle where there isn’t a much better one in its class from another manufacturer, this doesn’t surprise me a bit. I mean, if I were in the market for a Caliber, I’d have to shop it against a Trabant or a ’71 Pontiac Ventura.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea’s largest automaker, bucked the industry slide with a 27 percent increase. Seoul-based Hyundai said it sold 31,511 vehicles last month, up from 24,765 a year earlier.

    Just goes to show, you can only pawn unrefined, under-engineered, under-developed, unsafe, unreliable s*tboxes off on the public for so long.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Crossfires are still available on lots? Production ended on those things almost two years ago. I think there might be a slight problem at Chrysler. Hopefully some Fiat executives will realize that eventually and pull a Penske.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I mean, if I were in the market for a Caliber, I’d have to shop it against a Trabant or a ‘71 Pontiac Ventura.

    +1 – Ha!

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I was trying to find the real story here of ONE model that would symbolize Chrysler’s downfall.

    I have over 20 to choose from.

    The Caliber would be an obvious choice with a 60% drop in spite of C4C. But the sales on the new Ram and their minivans are even more woeful given the importance of these in Chrysler’s overall health.

    This is a D E A D company.

  • avatar
    Roundel

    Try finding a multitude of any of those vehicles that had off the cliff sales volumes.
    Autonews says they are producing Calibers and PT’s etc, but where are they?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “Where does Chrysler Group go from here?”

    She will go where the goblins go, below below.

    Chapter 7, the last chapter for the Maxwell Automobile Company.

  • avatar

    Chrysler’s warranty sould read, “3 years, 36,000 miles, or until we go C7”.

  • avatar
    rpiotr01

    “Well, since Chrysler doesn’t produce a single vehicle where there isn’t a much better one in its class from another manufacturer, this doesn’t surprise me a bit. ”

    What’s better than a Wrangler?

  • avatar
    NickR

    The Crossfire, which sold 127 units

    …after the dealers reinflated the tires, hosed off the dust, and sprayed a pint of ‘new car smell’ into each one.

  • avatar
    BDB

    Fiat is going to have to work a miracle bigger than the one Iacoca worked in the early ’80s on Chrysler to keep it from going under.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Yet Chrysler did not drop as much as GM with all of its fresh new and appealing products.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I can’t wait for the news next month from Zombieland Chrysler where they will go from here.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Did Chrysler have anything left to sell? Its factories were mothballed for months earlier this year and only recently started slowly coming back on line. What little desirable inventory was on the ground mostly got picked up in the C4C sales.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    The only way I would buy my next Chrysler is USED. I’m thinking a used 2008 Grand Caravan for $8k. Maybe this winter?

    The crazy big depreciation is great for a used car buyer like me. Look at resale prices of all Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge products – two year old Mopars are dirt cheap to buy!

    Of course, none of this helps Chrysler since I would never for a second pay close to retail for any of their products…

  • avatar
    Roundel

    @ John Horner
    Exactly… Every Chrysler dealer around here had nothing to sell… there were mostly Grand Cherokee’s left on the lot, nothing that was CFC sellable, i’m suprised they could find 200 PTs to sell. Minivans are sparse, inventory is lean… thats what happens when you close factories for months. Grand Cherokee’s are up due to the fact that there was still a ton of 09s left and they were throwing nearly $7k on the hood.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Saying there wasn’t enough inventory going into September wouldn’t be sensational enough.

    What’s Chrysler’s current inventory, guys? You’re playing fast and loose with your commentaries about Chrysler, yet you infallibly cite a single sourceless source, and yourselves to defend your findings.

    In academia, you’d fail.

    Frankly, I’m still waiting for the retraction on the archives story. That one fell off the face of the planet, didn’t it? What happened?

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    “Maaammmma Miiiiia!

    Porca Miseria!!”

    –Sergio Marchionne

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    brettc :
    October 1st, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Crossfires are still available on lots? Production ended on those things almost two years ago.

    My local dealer had two ’06s on his lot before they got closed down.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    No doubt about it, Chrysler is in puckered-asshole mode until the new product hits the stores.

    But I disagree with the comments on the impending refreshes of their existing models. It’s important that they show some improvements until replacements can come on board.

  • avatar
    law stud

    Geee, why did they close all those dealerships again?

    Maybe they ought to open those dealerships back up and move some metal!!!

    F*ck them for closing the door on so many, especially the profitable ones.

  • avatar
    albee213

    Chrysler needs to deal with the dealerships. How can you sell Challengers when they are all marked up 10-15k. They also need to change their line of cars more often. PT looser, same for ten years. Everyone who wants a 300 or Charger has one. Change them!

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Fiat to pull out in THREE, TWO, …….

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I do not know anyone at all that would even consider buying a Chrysler or Dodge. Not even a used one. For any reason at any price.

    It’s over.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    GS650G :
    October 1st, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    I do not know anyone at all that would even consider buying a Chrysler or Dodge. Not even a used one. For any reason at any price.

    I came close to pulling the trigger on a 300C Hemi AWD, every option possible, for $35,000. It’s a helluva nice car, particularly at that price. I also would consider a Challenger.

    Past that, though…crickets chirping…

  • avatar
    rudiger

    FreedMike: “No doubt about it, Chrysler is in puckered-asshole mode until the new product hits the stores.”I think the only new 2010 models coming out in the near term are the Grand Cherokee and 300. How is Chrysler going to survive until the ‘good’ Fiat-engineered stuff starts hitting the showroom floors way down the road?

  • avatar
    zaitcev

    I’m partial to the “new” Liberty, it’s an improvement over the old one. They threw out the excessively innovative 3-point rear suspension and installed the conventional 5-point one. Result: weight savings for fuel economy, more room inside the car. They also flipped around the lower ball joints, to reduce the separation hazard. Unfortunately, the structure is still too heavy. If things go as they do, the new Grand Cherokee will get lighter while being bigger.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    The Minivan numbers were surprising, I wonder where that business is going. Kia Sedona? Ford Flex? Volkswagen Routan?

  • avatar
    npbheights

    I am surprised that they did so well. I am surprised they sell even one car a month. It blows my mind that anyone would even consider buying a car from these people. Any other new car and lots of used cars would make a much better choice from a financial and mechanical perspective.

  • avatar
    menno

    Just got back a week ago from over two weeks on vacation down Route 66 in Arizona, Grand Canyon, all through Colorado and Utah. Had a great time, except that our rental minivan (which cost twice as much as quoted – I won’t be returning to Las Vegas any time nor will I rent a car EVER from this major rental car company again…) foisted a 2009 Chrysler Town & Country Touring on us – when I’d requested a Kia minivan instead.

    The 2009 Chrysler was bloody awful.

    Antique overhead valve V6 (1950’s tech, essentially). Couldn’t breathe at altitute, with only 12 valves. Only 197hp to haul around 5000 pounds by the time 5 of us and masses of luggage piled into the “minivan”. Some minivan. Heavy as hell. The original Chrysler minivans were far lighter, carried nearly as much (but of course, had absolutely no power – but nothing else did back then either).

    At least it had a six speed automatic. All that meant was that it had two gear to shift down while climbing the Rockies (at 4200 rpm at 70 mph). MPG was pathetic, as you could imagine. (I didn’t expect “Prius” MPG’s of course).

    But Chrysler? You should throw the OHV V6’s into the dumpster and install the 4.0 SOHC V6 in all minivans starting NOW. I realize the Phoenix V6 will be along “soon”.

    But Jesus wept, even a Kia minivan has an alloy DOHC 3.8 litre V6 with only a few ponies fewer than your SOHC 4.0 litre V6. And their price point is significantly lower than yours.

    However, I’d be willing to bet we’d have had an easier time of the mountains in the Kia, with the extra power and 4 valves per cylinder.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    rudiger :
    October 1st, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    FreedMike: “No doubt about it, Chrysler is in puckered-asshole mode until the new product hits the stores.”

    I think the only new 2010 models coming out in the near term are the Grand Cherokee and 300. How is Chrysler going to survive until the ‘good’ Fiat-engineered stuff starts hitting the showroom floors way down the road?

    Those two models won’t turn things aroudn on their own, but they’re a good start. The Grand Cherokee is traditionally a strong seller, so that’ll bring in some much needed cash, and the M-B design will give them much-needed cred.

    Propping things up for the long haul is up to Fiat, and I don’t think they had any illusions about what they were undertaking vis a vis Chrysler. They knew this would be an uphill battle going in.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    menno :
    October 2nd, 2009 at 10:05 am
    However, I’d be willing to bet we’d have had an easier time of the mountains in the Kia, with the extra power and 4 valves per cylinder.

    I live in Denver, and I can tell you the Kia’s no barn-burner when it comes to acceleration. Agreed on the base engine in the T&C, though – I drove one, and it was a no sale item for me.

  • avatar
    FloorIt

    joe_thousandaire :
    October 2nd, 2009 at 1:31 am
    The Minivan numbers were surprising, I wonder where that business is going. Kia Sedona? Ford Flex? Volkswagen Routan?

    Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey.


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