By on July 6, 2016

2015 Dodge Charger V6 AWD Rallye (2 of 13)

There’s nothing new here, nothing unusual at all to see.

U.S. sales at the increasingly popular Jeep brand jumped 17 percent in June 2016 as the overall market climbed just 2 percent; as SUVs and crossover sales grew 10 percent. Jeep sales have increased on a year-over-year basis in 33 consecutive months.

FCA’s need for Jeep to outperform was all the more clear in June, as Jeep attempted to follow-up an all-time record performance in May with sustained demand. Car sales across the automaker’s Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat brands plunged 40 percent, a loss of nearly 19,000 sales.

And so the trend continues. 17.4 percent of the new vehicles sold in the United States by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in April were cars. That figure fell to 16.9 percent in May and dropped to just 14.2 percent in June.

These aren’t typos. For every 86 pickup trucks, minivans, commercial vans, SUVs, and crossovers sold at your friendly local FCA store in June 2016, there were only 14 cars sold along with them.

FCA Car sales chart June 2016

CARS IN GENERAL
“In spite of some severe stock market volatility in June, the American consumer stayed focus on buying new vehicles,” FCA’s senior VP in charge of sales, Reid Bigland, said last Friday in a release from the company. And by vehicles, Bigland couldn’t have really been referring to cars.

Of course, the overall passenger car market is in a state of decline. This is not a trend unique to FCA. In June, U.S. sales of cars fell 9 percent as supremely popular nameplates such as the Toyota Camry and Corolla, top-selling premium cars such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series, and iconic Detroit muscle such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro all reported notable decreases.

Despite 1-percent year-to-date growth in the industry overall, a moderately successful answer to record sales in calendar year 2015, the car market was down 8 percent in the first-half of 2016, earning market share of just 41 percent. This isn’t new to 2016. Remember that one year ago, as the industry had grown 4 percent compared with the first six months of 2014, car volume was down more than 1 percent.

The losses in 2016, however, are more predictable and more significant.

2016 Chrysler 200 Side, Image: FCA

DISCONTINUED
At FCA, the overall market’s increasing distaste for conventional passenger cars is more clear because the automaker’s cars weren’t among the most popular in their segments before the rapid decline began. Rewind to May 2015, when the Chrysler 200 reached its peak, and the FCA car division produced 52,000 sales, roughly 34,000 fewer than the Ford brand’s six car nameplates; barely more than half the number of cars sold by General Motors that month.

That seems like another lifetime now, however. The Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart won’t be directly replaced by FCA-engineered efforts, and 200 production could stop by the end of 2016. FCA only 27,974 cars across its 10 car nameplates in June: the 200 and 300 at Chrysler; Dodge’s Challenger, Charger, Dart, and Viper; the Alfa Romeo 4C; and Fiat’s 500, 500L, and 124 Spider (which produced its first sale at the end of June).

Jeep Wranglers Coming Down The Line In Toledo

NOT JUST JEEP
Coming to the rescue of FCA’s flagging car division are more than just Jeep SUVs and crossovers. Ram pickup truck sales jumped 14 percent in June and rose 9 percent, or nearly 19,000 units, in the first-half of 2016. The Dodge Journey and Durango and Fiat’s 500X combined for a 17-percent jump to 17,438 sales. After a tough start to 2015 because of FCA’s Windsor, Ontario, minivan plant shutdown, total June FCA minivan volume rose 69 percent to 26,734 units. That’s nearly as many Grand Caravans, Pacificas, and Town & Countrys as there were total FCA car sales.

But Jeep, which produced 42 percent of all FCA sales in the United States in June, is the real answer. A 12-percent Cherokee decline was more than cancelled out by Renegade and Compass sales that were more than twice as strong this June as last. Additionally, a 24-percent Patriot increase, a 9-percent Grand Cherokee improvement, and the Wrangler’s 5-percent rise to 20,060 units, tops among Jeeps and second only to the Ram P/U on the FCA leaderboard, combined to push Jeep into the stratosphere.

Jeep is now on pace to sell more than 1,000,000 new vehicles in the U.S. in 2016. That’s a figure which might just erase all memories of the Chrysler 200.

[Images: FCA, Chart: Timothy Cain]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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94 Comments on “FCA’s Cars Fall Harder And Farther In June, Jeep Doesn’t Care...”


  • avatar

    They’ll be just fine.

    Chargers and Challengers sell like hotcakes.

    They need to advertise their AWD availability more.

    As for the Dart and 200… The Dart needs to be the size of the 200 – price unchanged.

    The 200 needs to grow to be the size of the Hyundai Sonata – price unchanged.

    Charger and 300 need more legroom in the rear.

    FCA’s problem is a little European man who doesn’t understand the American market. The American market wants BIG CARS.
    Sure there are a “handful” of people buying small cars because they can barely afford the commute’s gas requirements and they are desperately trying to save some cash while they commute into and out of an inner city that wants them dead…but the majority of the market wants a big car so they can get family and cargo in without a problem.

    Stop with the stupid small engine nonsense.

    Between the manual and that pathetic little 4-cylinder, the Dart’s initial launch was ruined and the hate for it didn’t die off till the GT model came to market.

    ALWAYS OFFER MORE POWER and as much/more INTERIOR SPACE than your competitors.

    Regardless how well it handles on some stupid track or in these “pruffeshunal reviewas” slaloms… MORE POWER and MORE SPACE SELLS with proper advertising. The “pruffeshunal reviewas” still can’t figure out why the Dodge OURNEY sells so well.

    I’d sit down and explain it to them exactly like I’m explaining it now but they just don’t get it.

    The “pruffeshunal reviewas” can try to explain to me that the viper was a better project than the Magnum would have been, but SINCE THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT…the viper is now discontinued due to LACK OF AFFORDABILITY and LACK OF PRACTICALITY.

    More SPACE

    More POWER.

    Look over there: That Challenger Hellcat and Charger Hellcat have a markup to $90,000 AND STILL MANAGE TO SELL while they can’t GIVE vipers away.

    Ya know why?

    #1 less power
    #2 less interior space
    #3 A STUPID MANUAL with no AUTOMATIC optional.

    YOU DESERVED TO FAIL BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T LISTEN.

    ADIOS little viper.

    In other news:

    The new JEEP HELLCAT TRACKHAWK SRT was JUST UNVEILED AND I’M GETTING IT.

    That is: unless that European pinhead does the right thing and builds the 300 SRT HELLCAT.

    I never really wanted a Charger or Challenger. The Dodge product isn’t up to my luxury/tech standards.

    EVERYBODY AND THEY MAMA from Here to Canada to Dubai to Saudi Arabia to Russia WANTS THAT JEEP.

    Only the elite few of us are gonna get one.

    As the market shifts to crossovers, SUV’s and other vehicles on stilts, cars in general will decline unless they offer MORE SPACE and MORE POWER.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      What kept them from shortening the Charger to make their mid-size offering? Is it that the plants are at capacity, or have they reached the engineering limits of the platform, or is it that the hard points would make the interior volume impossible? No will to do it? Excess capacity and sunk cost with the Giulietta?

      The 200 was such a miss, if they’re going to keep Dodge as a niche car brand, at least make them all RWD illegitimate offspring of some nice RWD Mercedes from the 90s.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Really, they ‘unveiled’ the Trackhawk SRT?

      News to me.

      Yeah, there’s a few undisguised JGC’s running around with tape over the badges. But they could be anything…until I see a photo online of an M-plate JGC with the hood up an a supercharger peeking out I wouldn’t believe anything in the blogsphere.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes…I made a reaction video. I can hardly wait.

        My Jeep SRT costs $1030 a month + $225 insurance from Geico.

        Apparently, insurance companies IGNORE performance SUVs and count them the same as they would a regular model.

        I’m gonna be driving around in a rocket tank and Geico’s gonna be like…”that’s just fine”.

    • 0 avatar

      BigTrucks, I appreciate the breakdown but you are missing the big reason people don’t buy Chryslers, especially in the categories where the competition is extremely strong (midsize and small sedans).

      They aren’t well built. Chrysler hasn’t dealt with their longterm quality or build quality issues, which means that people won’t buy them. I drove a 200C over the weekend and the space, power, looks, etc. were all fine. The platform was a bit rubbish (mind you, so is the Altima’s), and the car already had rattles with 2500 kms on the odometer. Why would I buy that when I can have something, anything without those quality issues?

      Also, the “European pinhead” is actually Italian-Canadian, who educated exclusively in North America. And if everyone wanted that Jeep there would be much wider availability and much higher production numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        I disagree on people not buying Chrysler because of reliability. If that were true, Jeep wouldn’t be going gangbusters. Instead Jeep would be negative, flat, or mildly up. The giant gap between Jeep and Chrysler sales reflects a strong product difference.

        Crossovers are hot. Jeep has a strong differentiated lineup of crossovers all over the price spectrum. They are just as unreliable as Chryslers, but they’re selling great.

        The 200 and Dart flopped, the 300 and Challengers are niche cars compared to the entire auto market. Add the relative coolness of the sedan market, and FCA’s cars are the wrong product in the wrong place at the wrong time. If the Dart, Challenger, 200 and 300 had CRV levels of “gotta have it” they’d be fine. But they have narrow appeal.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        My experience with Plymouth, Dodge and Fiat has been very good, beginning in 1987 and continuing through the present. My experience with Ford has been very good and terrible. My experience with GM quality has been bad enough to make me vow to never buy another one of their products (okay, I might make an exception for a Chevy SS).

        My experience with Toyota ownership has ranged from excellent to pretty average. Honda and Nissan… better than average. Anecdotal evidence, but my experience… which I find much more worthwhile than opinions of people who may have axes to grind.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      They could always do like they did in nineties ala LHS/Concord and just stop making the Dart as is and place the name of it on the 200. As far as the 200 goes just get Mazda too build it off of the 6 and FCA uses their own engines and transmissions.
      Mazda needs the productivity and FCA needs the product.

    • 0 avatar
      Nurburgringer

      “They need to advertise their AWD availability more.”

      Yes, they need to market more to the ignorant buyer that thinks they need a heavy, complicated, useless, high profit margin drive system to forge 6″ deep puddles and “put the power down around curves”.

      Take a lesson from Subaru’s playbook, which somehow is selling tons of AWD cars even in FLORIDA.

      • 0 avatar

        Do you really need it ? no Does it hurt fuel economy? yes, But it’s still very useful in all kinds of bad weather and while not needed most car equipment is not needed doesn’t mean we don’t want it.

        • 0 avatar
          Nurburgringer

          “useful in all kinds of bad weather”
          What kind of bad weather, specifically?

          Snow? Winter tires. Done.
          Ice? AWD will only mean you’ll be going faster when you spin off the road or slam into a stopped car. Stay home or get spiked tires.
          Rain? Who are you, Ken Block?
          Hurricanes? OK AWD Might help with traction when fighting a 100mph headwind.
          Mudslides? Yes! AWD would be very helpful in cases of massive mudslides! I’m getting one :)

          If you live up north and just have to do AWD, go all the freaking way. Just don’t pretend that’s it’s anything but a toy.
          When I lived in Milwaukee my Grand Cherokee 5.9 on Blizzaks was an absolute blast.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            Don’t forget zombie apocalypses. Very handy for mowing down the mindless dead, that’s a tough traction situation with all the fluids and gore being scattered about.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        “Dohohoho! Look at how awesome I am, guise, by insulting people for buying AWD!”

        Bringing up Subaru selling AWD in Florida is irrelevant. Subaru sells AWD everywhere on everything (save the BRZ) since 1996.

        • 0 avatar
          Nurburgringer

          lol you don’t live in FL and drive a Subaru by chance do you?

          Bringing up Subarus or any other AWD vehicle that will never go offroad in FL is totally relevant.
          But FCA simply pushing AWD wouldn’t be enough, they’re need to “toughen up” their vehicles with body cladding, roof rails and higher ride height to give the illusion of offroad capability for suburbanites with money to burn (or at least borrow) to feel better about themselves.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Ever drive in Florida’s torrential downpours? I have – they’re very similar to our torrents in Houston. I’m glad I have AWD on those days. Kill me if you must.

  • avatar

    Cars are in decline FCA doesn’t sell many cars even before that none of this is surprising. Given the amount of Jeep’s they sell they may be able to dig them selves out of Fiat’s debt pit yet. Wranglers and Grand Cherokees as well as Rams have to be pretty profitable. Also despite all the negativity the sell the hell out of Journeys which again given it’s age and low investment has to make money even with a stack of cash on the hood.
    They really do need some more vehicles in the line up thou I think Chrysler may be dead but at least Dodge needs new products to be coming. Interesting thought on the Challenger it has out sold the Camaro in the past few months. Also per an article on Allpar the Charger is the 2nd best selling rwd car in the US and the 2nd best selling fullsize, behind the Mustang and Impala respectively. Yes the Charger out sells all the luxury make RWD offerings as well which is a bit amazing actually.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Are you serious with this ridiculous anti-FCA bias?
    The sales story for the month is that FCA offered and sold more of the cars Americans want, and fewer of the cars Americans don’t want.

    The way TTAC spins that into a negative is getting really old. If you love entry-level sedans so much, just go buy some. Don’t blame others because they want more comfortable, more convenient, better looking crossovers that get essentially the same gas mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Where is the anti-FCA rhetoric in this article? You seem a little wound up, take a chill pill. Dude just reported on how FCA’s balances of sales are showing the shift in consumer tastes… no bashing from what I’ve seen.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Everything in this article is trying to put a negative spin on what was an amazingly good month for FCA.

        Look at the title, would you guess that they had a great month after being told that they “fell harder and faster?” The rest of the article is filled with words like “decline,” “plunged,” and so on.

        The whole premise is wrong too. People are going to FCA dealerships and driving away with expensive cars, crossovers, pickups and crossovers like never before in this decade. That’s hardly a reason for doom and gloom.

        If this was a one-off article, it would be OK. Maybe the writer’s dog died, or he needs a root canal treatment, whatever. The problem is that almost all FCA articles use the same negative tone. If you only read the headlines and skim the lead paragraph (as I assume many people do), you would be forgiven for thinking that FCA was at death’s door. That’s not the case at all, they are actually doing quite well.

        • 0 avatar
          Timothy Cain

          We encourage readers to “only read the headlines and skim the lead paragraph” but sometimes they flip the whole equation on its head, quite clearly living rather dangeously, and even read the whole last section.

        • 0 avatar
          deanst

          If you think profits of less than 400 million euros on revenues of over 110 billion is “doing quite well”, I hope you have external advisers for any investments you make. I suspect FCA gets more than 400 million in government subsidies, making this enterprise unprofitable despite a booming north american auto market.

          Reminds me of the mopar review of the 200, where the author claimed it was so good that the only competitor worth mentioning was a Lexus.

          People can get more delusional about cars than they do about their favorite sports team.

          • 0 avatar

            True, Global profits for FCA are near the bottom for automakers, but none of them make really great margins other then Porsche. I believe Detroit news had a chart showing FCA was mid pack for profits in the US well below Toyota and Honda but higher then GM and about even with Ford. FCA is also picking up sales in Asia and seems to be having a slight recovery in South America but none of that can seem to help the bleeding from Fiat in Europe.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            re: ” I suspect FCA gets more than 400 million in government subsidies”

            What subsidies would that be? Are they different from the types of subsidies that every other auto maker and/or large manufacturing company gets?

            You should look deeper into the numbers. FCA is making money and gaining market share all over the world, not just in the US pickup market (unlike GM). They are a much more solid and diversified company than they were in 2008.

            Their sedan share is dropping, as with every other manufacturer, but they have a very strong SUV/CUV portfolio. They’ve navigated globalization and the market’s move to crossovers better than the other Detroit brands, and arguably better than most other major groups.

            I just don’t see why people are so down on them. If anything, I’m worried about GM. What happens when fuel prices go up and banks stop handing-out 6-year notes on $60K pickups? They have nothing else. Cadillac is a minor regional brand with little credibility. Buick sells low-margin subcompacts in China. Chevrolet’s cars only move when they are priced well below the competition. Opel has been losing money for decades. Holden is an importer of Chinese and Korean cars. Daewoo isn’t even a contender in their home market.
            GM is a house of cards built on top of the Silverado, and the latest Silverado numbers aren’t good.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            “I just don’t see why people are so down on them. If anything, I’m worried about GM.”

            Honestly it comes down to this: some people think FCA should be Mopar. FCA turned out to be Jeep. The people who were looking for the next 300C, Challenger, Power Wagon, and Hornet are instead looking at Cherokees, Renegades, and Pacificas, and are reaching for the Preparation H.

            There’s probably a lot more subtlety to it but on the surface that’s a big part of it. The other part of it is the sheer rudeness of going against their wishes AND SUCCEEDING IN THE PROCESS. That’s unforgivable. ;)

            Oh and the reason why GM isn’t worried is that they’ve already established the whole “too big to fail” thing. They just expect another bailout. They may be right.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “I believe Detroit news had a chart showing FCA was mid pack for profits in the US well below Toyota and Honda but higher then GM and about even with Ford.”

            Honda posted a loss Q4 last year.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah I just looked again it was for year 2015 and it didn’t include Honda. It Showed GM with lowesest profit percentage Then FCA just below Ford and Toyota way ahead.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          “Everything in this article is trying to put a negative spin on what was an amazingly good month for FCA.”

          A 6% YOY change is pretty good in a market averaging ~2.4%, but of FCA’s 6 volume brands (Chrysler, Dodge, RAM, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati) half are down, and a third are down by nearly 20%. Like the article says pretty much all of their cars are down, way more than their competitors. Hardly “amazingly good”.

          “Look at the title, would you guess that they had a great month after being told that they “fell harder and faster?” The rest of the article is filled with words like “decline,” “plunged,” and so on.”

          FCA car sales had an abysmal month. If you read the article you would see that.

          “The whole premise is wrong too. People are going to FCA dealerships and driving away with expensive cars, crossovers, pickups and crossovers like never before in this decade. That’s hardly a reason for doom and gloom.”

          When gas prices go up, the economy slows down or credit gets tight, what do you think is going to happen to those sales? And do you think we will have cheap gas, no recessions and unsustainably low credit forever? FCA’s current success is built on a castle of sand… when the tide comes in they are going to get washed out. This is why Sergio is angling for a merger, because he sees the storm on the horizon. And in any case the article has hardly called for any “doom and gloom”… just reporting on what’s going on. FCA’s car sales are in the garbage, all the way up to Maserati.

          “If this was a one-off article, it would be OK. Maybe the writer’s dog died, or he needs a root canal treatment, whatever. The problem is that almost all FCA articles use the same negative tone. If you only read the headlines and skim the lead paragraph (as I assume many people do), you would be forgiven for thinking that FCA was at death’s door. That’s not the case at all, they are actually doing quite well.”

          People who just read the title and skim paragraphs deserve to be fooled, bamboozled and shamed when they try and make arguments based on a tiny piece of the puzzle. When I read these articles, I READ them, and I go on GoodCarBadCar to validate what is said, as well as put individual brand stories in the context of segments and the market at large. Maybe if people did that, instead of lazily skimming and getting emotional about news about their brands they don’t like, we could avoid conversations like this.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            sportyaccordy,

            Car sales going down would be a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that crossover sales are going up at a much higher rate. In other words, the people who would have purchased $25K Chrysler 200s in the past are buying $30K Cherokees instead.
            The new Cherokee gets better mileage than the old 200. It’s not a gas guzzler, and neither are the Renegade, Pacifica, or Grand Cherokee (with the right engine). I’m willing to bet that the Patriot replacement won’t use a lot of gas either.
            It’s not 2006, modern Jeeps get over 30mpg highway, not 18 mpg.

            GM will have issues transitioning buyers from Tahoes to more economical rides, but FCA has already done that.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Accordy– I don’t speak of the (quite palpable) bias anymore because I was put in the corner about it, BUT.. to not admit that the anti-Chrysler bias around here gave birth to our biggest, our blackest– our blowhardiest blowhard– is to ignore basic sociology.

        Without the continued negative Chrysler spin– he’d have never existed because he’d have nothing to talk about. He would be as boring as anyone that talked about an average sedan. Hellcat is just a fast sedan when spoken about without the ‘Chrysler sux’ subtext.

        With the ‘Chrysler sux’ subtext? It becomes something extraordinary. Something to brag about.

        Think about that for a moment.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          TTAC’s supposed anti-FCA bias did not create BTSR. The caricatures of the Hellcat lineup and ideals of manhood in America did. He makes his presence felt in pretty much any article that pops up when he has a free moment to grab the first post. Don’t put that on TTAC.

          Also I don’t think it would be a bad idea to at least entertain the thought that maybe your Chrysler fandom might be making you see something that isn’t there with regard to an anti-Chrysler bend. Things are changing at FCA and TTAC has reported said changes. FCA’s car lineup is in the dumps and Jeep is carrying the load. How is that “anti-FCA”? If you can’t handle negative news about FCA stick to Mopar echo chambers.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            BTSR was created when someone accidentally spliced a beer truck driver together with a Hemi Hellcat. Which just proves why messing with stem cells is so dangerous. ;)

            Honestly I’d think this article was almost pro-FCA. I think things get diverted by the anti-FCA comments (which are really more Anti-Sergio and Pro-Hemi when you get right down to it). But if anything, FCA (thanks to Jeep) is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the CUV boom. But you have to point out that it’s a good thing, since their cars have always been somewhat noncompetitive (which should NOT be news to anyone).

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        You’re right. One only has to go six paragraphs in to read that ALL car sales are down. That’s better than the NYT, or the bird cage lining LAT, at least.

  • avatar
    davewg

    Clearly no one wants cars anymore except the real enthusiast. Everyone else wants to CUV all the things. Sad state of affairs when for most people a minivan or wagon (wagen?) would serve them better.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Why is it a sad state of affairs? Why would a wagon or minivan serve a generic person (without indicating what their specific needs are) better than a CUV?

      • 0 avatar
        stevelovescars

        I think it’s an interesting conundrum. CUV supporters claim they are what people want but we’re also arguing that American buyers want more space and power for their money.

        It seems to me that compared to hatchbacks on which they are built, the equivalent CUVs often have LESS interior space, cost a lot more, and have compromised ride and handling. Most also get worse fuel economy due to added weight and poor aerodynamics. A compact or midsized wagon (which are basically unavailable in the U.S. except for limited options or luxury nameplates) usually offer more carrying capacity, better fuel economy, and better street performance. Likewise, for pure people-hauling duties, a minivan can’t be beat for seating space and ingress/egress.

        The only place CUVs seem to excel is in their marketing images as “SUVs” which people seem to think screams “mommy mobile” less than a minivan. Also, their available AWD is a sales advantage in some climates, which is a manufacturing choice since manufacturers can demand a price premium for an “SUV” vs. adding AWD to a “car.” I agree that most SUVs are actually compromises for image over function… but I can’t argue that consumers aren’t jumping all over them.

        Look at the Impreza/Crosstrek, it is essentially the exact same package jacked up a inch with added plastic. They cost thousands more for the CT and Subaru is happy to sell them 4:1. It’s a brilliant and profitable move by them.

        Does it make sense as a consumer to spend that much more for the image of the off-road ready vehicle one will never take off pavement? Of course not, but if the industry was only based on what makes sense we’d all be driving Corollas and luxury brands would cease to exist.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Remember that most first-time CUV buyers came not from sedans and hatchbacks, but from truck-based compact or midsize SUVs (see: Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Kia Sorento, Chevy TrailBlazer/GMC Envoy to Equinox/Terrain) In those cases, the CUV is a massive improvement, because if you’re not gonna take your SUV off-road or tow regularly with it, you might as well have a vehicle that trades offroadability for better MPG and a better ride while still keeping the tall wagon profile.

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          I think you’re forgetting to factor in road quality. In the past 20 years, ground clearance on cars has shrunk in the quest for fuel efficiency. Not only that but sidewall size has generally shrunk as well. The issue with this is that our roads have not gotten any better, they’re generally in relatively poor repair, so those modifications have hurt ride quality for some. SUVs and CUVs are consumer backlash from this trend (which, honestly, was forced by ever increasing EPA FE requirements). They provide comparable ground clearance, air cushion, and comfort of a 60s to 80s sedan. That can’t be a coincidence.

          • 0 avatar
            MrGreenMan

            I observed this. I remember test driving a 2013 Malibu (The one that looked like a rejected Nascar design). I had my Uglibu parked next to it. There had to be two inches of lost clearance at the front – maybe more.

            I asked the sales guy what to do about uneven pavement, or anything you might have to straddle to drive over – e.g., a dead skunk. His advice was the perennially useful, “Don’t get in that situation.”

            The AMC Eagle looks so incredibly appealing if somebody would start cranking those out again.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            I’d buy one in a heartbeat if I could find one new.

        • 0 avatar

          It depends on the conversion. the Mazda is often cited as being less roomy then its hatch back sibling but that’s not always the case. Without looking up numbers I would say the RAV 4 was bigger then the Matrix and the CRV was bigger then a civic hatch. The Highlander is bigger inside then the last Camry wagon, and the Pilot is bigger inside then the accord wagon. Now they are all more expensive but people are willing to pay it. People prefer the increased ride height, they like that they are easier to get into and see out of. plus they like AWD and increased cargo hauling over sedans. Look my last 2 cars have been wagons, I like wagons, but a modern CUV out handles my previous 2001 outback quite handily, while getting better gas mileage, car guys hate them but CUVS are very practical. And minivan’s well lets face it they are are what really started the CUV thing (SUVs based on cars with taller driving positions)

        • 0 avatar
          Whatnext

          Very well put stevelovescars.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          Which CUVs have less space than their hatchback equivalents? Rav4 has a lot more space than a Scion iM (Corolla iM as of 2017). Mazda CX5 has way more space than a Mazda 3 hatch. Maybe the Tiguan, but let’s be honest, it is just a terrible implementation of a CUV.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            You’re comparing the wrong vehicles. The Mazda CX-5 compares to the Mazda6 rather than the Mazda3. The RAV4 pairs with the Camry, not the Corolla. It’s a little counter-intuitive, and I don’t know why or how it ended up this way, but a “compact” SUV has similar interior and cargo dimensions to a midsize sedan or hatch. Likewise, a compact sedan or hatch would be similarly-sized to a SUBcompact SUV. Note I say “similarly” and not identical. They’re not the same, but they essentially the segment equivalents when you move between car and SUV. Took me a while to figure that out, but it explains why every compact SUV I test drove felt too big. The Mazda CX-5 is significantly bigger than a Mazda3, that’s expected. The Mazda CX-3 is smaller than a Mazda3 hatch, though the two are loosely comparable.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            npaladin – when you compare platform mates (CX5 and 3, Corolla and Rav), the CUV always has more space. Steve’s comments specifically call out platform mates. While a Camry sedan and a Rav4 sell for about the same money and have about the same space, they aren’t platform mates.

            Some first hand experience: Our departed Rav4 was more spacious than the Prius v that it replaced, despite being on the same platform and having shorter length and wheelbase. Being able to build vertically in the Rav paid dividends on the cargo space and the design of the IP and seating. The Prius v rear seats, for example, only folded down at the hip point so the seat back laid on top of the seat bottom. The Rav4 rear seats folded the seat bottom down into the rear footwell and the seatback to where the seat bottom was. For tall items, that was very handy.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            I know that. My point is, you can’t compare platform mates because they aren’t model equivalents. As you noted, they vary significantly in interior and sometimes exterior dimensions, happens on the way up I guess. So while you can compare a Mazda3 and a Mazda CX-5 due to them being platform mates, they don’t compete in interior space, exterior size, or price. And don’t really even compete with each other.

          • 0 avatar
            stevelovescars

            I used to have a BMW 525iT (wagon). I always thought the cargo area and interior offered more useful space than the X5. The X5 did better if one had to carry something tall, but I never did. I also found the lower load height helpful in day-to-day use.

            When one moves up to midsized SUVs, they also bring third-row seating in some cases. With the exception of the Mercedes E-Class, I don’t know of other wagons left with this benefit. My family truckster/winter car is currently a 2002 Ford Taurus Wagon. It has a rear-facing third row seat. I don’t use it often but it has come in handy a few times. That car holds a ton of stuff but it isn’t remotely sporty to drive nor does it get great fuel economy out of that Vulcan pushrod V6. I also wonder what would happen in a rear-end collision since the third row foot space is basically the crush zone. OTOH, the third row seats on midsized SUVs are pretty darned close to the rear hatch/window as well. But newer cars are unquestionably better in terms of crashworthiness.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      How would a wagon or minivan serve them better? Average family in the US is 3.14 people as of 2015. Even if you generously round that up to 4 even, a minivan is overkill. And a wagon will be more of a PITA for everyone to get into, while also having significantly less cargo space and headroom. What are you talking about?

      Yes, we should CUV all the things. It achieves peak practicality for the widest range of people, while having driving dynamics and fuel economy not far off from the cars they are based on or compete with within a lineup. You must live a charmed life if people you don’t know driving cars you will never buy or drive keeps you up at night.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        A CUV is a return to the tall, upright cars of pre-1955, the ones you could wear a respectable hat in. The majority of consumers couldn’t care less about the “superior driving dynamics” of a low-slung sedan if they hit their head on the A-pillar every time they get in.

        • 0 avatar

          Yep, Drz, my thoughts exactly. Driving dynamics matter so little in North America too. All of our roads are wide and straight (yeah yeah, East Coast, I KNOW you’re the exception).

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            They’re not straight, they just very vertically rather than laterally. Mountains and potholes. :D

    • 0 avatar
      Nurburgringer

      As a proud minivan owner and wagon lover I don’t hate CUVs. They’re not body-on-frame SUV stupid mobiles after all, they’re basically taller hatchback/station wagons. Sure AWD ones are stupid but other than slightly worse aerodynamics and worse fuel economy they’re not inherently evil.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      @davewg,
      No, a wagon or minivan will not serve most CUV buyers better. I know its very hard for enthusiasts to accept (and I’m a wagon enthusiast, I owned a few B-body wagons and would happily buy a full-size RWD wagon again if it ever existed) but CUVs are very good at what they do. We own a CUV, a GMC Terrain; though my arguments apply equally well to a Rav4/CRV/Escape/etc. Its rear leg room is superior to ANY wagon on sale today in the USDM and nearly matches luxury flagships. It also has a low beltline and airy greenhouse; something you cannot say about most sedans/wagons/hatches these days. This makes it very easy to see out of. There’s no pretension of sport so the ride quality is soft/supple and comfortable for long drives. The fuel economy is pretty good and the real world dollar savings for getting a 4-5mpg more in a wagon/sedan don’t amount to much actual money. Fuel efficiency improvements have diminishing returns once you get out of the teens. Its also an extremely safe vehicle that does well in all IIHS testing. Then there’s the utility aspect. The tall roof allows it to haul items that no wagon or hatch could ever hope to. It also keeps a healthy distance between the top of my head and the vehicle’s headliner. Combine that with flat-beltline, boxier, upright styling as opposed to the wedge-shaped, v-nosed, rising-beltline, generic mess that describes 99% of cars on the road and you have a winner for us. If only it wasn’t Fail wheel drive… Were I to get a midsize/compact wagon/hatch I’d lose space, legroom, ride quality, and a low-beltline just to gain handling (not important) and a small savings on fuel (likely offset by higher insurance rates). Doesn’t seem like it would serve me better at all.

      A minivan is significantly larger than our Terrain and would not fit in our garage (there is a workbench in front of the Terrain). Minivans are also less fuel efficient, cost more to buy, cost more to insure, and the extra utility that offsets that is useless to us. Minivans are supremely practical and useful vehicles; we just don’t need one. If we needed a three row I would absolutely choose a minivan over a Pilot or Traverse. I typically rent them on vacations and have always found them to be the best 3-row family vehicle for the price.

      • 0 avatar
        Wodehouse

        Well done!

        Also, kudos for owning a Terrain. Its design stands apart from the herd of look-alike competition. I love that the Terrain and its Equinox relative have the sheetmetal C-Post that looks so much better than the wimpy blackout pillar-to-glass look their competition has. I hope the next generation doesn’t get the generic rising belt line, blackout C-Post, pinched quarter window look.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Maybe stupid Q. but :
    .
    Is FCA making money now ? .
    .
    Can’t they simply be a smaller company selling less units and still make reasonable profit ? .
    .
    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that the 2nd Quarter profit/loss statements haven’t been made public yet. Those statements would be more illuminating for each of the world’s automakers than sales figures.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      Nate:

      It’s about their breakeven point. How many cars they have to sell to pay their overhead – sell more and it’s all gravy and sell less and they go the way of Studebaker.

      A lot depends on what facilities they have; how many lines in how many plants. Studebaker, for example, made more money just with one line in Hamilton, building one car, slowly with relatively few employees and using outsourced parts…than they did with, what, six lines, in three different plants in the 1950s. They were making low profits in 1965 but they WERE profiting off the Hamilton line. The cash burn in the 1950s was enough to jeopardize the company’s future.

      In the AMC-Jeep years, the Jeep line was profitable. There were two lines in Toledo; but until Bramlea opened up, that was IT. Paid for; lower breakeven point; all of it gravy.

      Their car lines were not only not the same, but lost so much money it drove them to shop for a merger/takeover partner, settling on Renault.

      FCA…has plants, lines, operations all over the world. I don’t know what the profit point is on each one. I wonder if Sergio knows. Because the cars are judged, in the marketplace, as crap…FCA is not selling nearly as many as its world competitors.

      Jeep is their cash cow right now but this is a fashion trend, fueled by the success of young financialist-types. This won’t last – not their success, making gobs of money by manipulating Zero-Interest Federal-Reserve dollars, and not the fashion end of it.

      If we have another oil crunch…Jeep sales will evaporate. As they did in 1974 and 1980, when AMC could scarcely afford to lose the income stream.

      FCA needs a broader base of success in their business – and soon. Japan has changed the auto market – poorly-assembled tinfoil cars are not competitive.

      • 0 avatar

        FCA is vulnerable to Gas prices, very true. But at this point Jeep has become very diversified, with 4 car based CUV’s that all fall into a gas mileage range that seems rather unaffected by gas price swings unlike say Tahoe’s. The Jeep sales are cutting across a lot of different classes, while their sales will dip with a disruption I doubt they will collapse like they did in the past.

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          Maybe. Remember, the Jeep name is not magic. People who buy them, paying more for less quality, believe they are buying something that isn’t offered with “just” a car.

          And when a parent corporation takes a brand or small company known for quality and then milks it…it takes a little while but ONLY a little while. Customers disappear. This happens again and again – consider Troy-Bilt tillers and yard-care equipment. Top quality – until MTD bought it. Now it’s just a brand, slapped on cheap, shoddy throwaway units.

          Volkswagen, the same. They got involved with NSU; NSU’s corporate culture triumphed; and that was the end of the durable, simple, good-value People’s Car.

          Or, Packard. Small-volume car for the wealthy. But Packard bought Studebaker; Studebaker’s culture became dominant, even though Packard had been the buyer; and the two-year run of the “Packardbaker” sent former owners fleeing.

          It will not take Jeep long to go the same way. ALREADY Chrysler customers have left – the reputation of Chrysler as an engineering company is just gone, now.

          The reputation of Jeep as a no-nonsense utility-vehicle company can go as fast and probably will.

          • 0 avatar

            This has been discussed many times here before, but Jeep and reliability haven’t ever really gone together. Durability yes but not reliability. Also the car based Jeeps were introduced a decade ago and have only strengthened the brand every year since despite what many people (including myself ) thought. At this point Jeep may have the strongest “brand” in the industry, by that I mean the brand sells more cars then the actual quality of the cars. While this creates a possibility for a collapse there are currently no signs one is coming. Even if gas prices go up Jeep was setting records back in 2013 before the fall in gas prices remember.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            “This has been discussed many times here before…”

            It has; I agree but you’re missing my point.

            People who buy Jeeps are not buying reliability. Or even, really, quality. They’re buying an IMAGE – like Harley-Davidson buyers buy an image.

            If Harley-Davidson started bringing in captive-import metric Asian bikes…H-D would lose its cachet; it would become just one more motorcycle brand; and the pirate party would drift elsewhere.

            And as Jeep continues to slap the seven-slot grill on FCA…CARS…it will destroy the Jeep cachet; the Fashion Statement; the Trendy, Edgy quality that today’s more-money-than-intellect young financier successes are buying. That will be the end of Jeep as a cash cow to support Sweater Sergio’s unwise moves.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            *finishes buying Pfizer stock*

            There’s nothing wrong with CUVs, especially if Jeep can make them truly off-road worthy. If anyone can, it’s Jeep. And from the way they did the Renegade, they’re definitely capable of it. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t mind seeing something based on a RAM 1500 as well as some of FIAT’s smaller worldwide trucks, but as long as they can legitimately maintain that rough-and-ready off-road image they’ll be fine. This isn’t like HD buying captive imports, it’s more like HD buying frames and parts as imports and then trying to turn them into a true Harley. Not a slam-dunk but not nearly the same as taking a Subaru and slapping a Saab badge on it, for instance.

          • 0 avatar

            But it hasn’t we already have the proof. The Compass and Patriot, Mitsubishi based CUV’s have sold like hot cakes over the past 10 years and have not stopped or slowed sales of other models either. We also have 3 years of Cherokee sales showing the same thing. As long as they keep building a rough tough Wrangler and a luxurious and somewhat tough looking Grand Cherokee they seem to be able to to cause no harm by slapping their badge on everything else.

          • 0 avatar
            bryanska

            Nothing kills success more than being visible. Then the vampires come and suck it dry.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            npaladin2000: “There’s nothing wrong with CUVs, especially if Jeep can make them truly off-road worthy. If anyone can, it’s Jeep.”

            Why is that?

            Who/what is Jeep?

            It’s the same stooges who’re busy running Dodge and Chrysler into the ground. Jeep is just a brand now…an engineer HIRED in 1970 would be long-past retirement now. Especially through five rounds of mergers, spin-offs, buyouts, changes of ownership, Not-Invented-Here mentality, contempt for the American/German/Cerberus/whatever previous ownership. The persons there came up through whatever parent company controlled at the time they were hired – and if it was prior to Fiat, they succeeded in avoiding the purges which follow each change of ownership/management, always.

            There IS no special ability there. If there were, it would be spread across the FCA lines. It is not; and that’s self-evident.

            Jeep is selling as a fashion item for neo-Yuppies right now and that won’t last.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Volkswagen added NSU because they painted themselves in a corner with a very limited drivetrain/configuration and wanted FWD access cheaply.

            Packard was already tanking during the Depression and started their slippery slope when they offered a lower price line. Suddenly Packards weren’t any more special than Buicks. The marriage to Studebaker was pure convenience of survival. The GM-Ford price wars of 1953-54 hit all the small independents hard. Despite their best efforts, some made it a feew more years until they busted (Studebaker in ’66, AMC in ’81 when Renault absorbed them).

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    This is not shocking. Chrysler’s cars have always been a step behind, with the car market itself shrinking, they were going to be the ones taking the hit. Plus, the 500 is old, and the 500L is ugly. You’ll see things like the Charger and Challenger sell Ok to some of our more crimson-throated brethren (#HellcatAllTheThings), but the real action is in truck, SUVs, and crossovers. Luckily, that’s a place both Fiat and Chrysler have traditionally been quite competitive with (one could argue that a minivan qualifies as a crossover too). Fiat’s commercial ProMaster vans are excellent and a unique offering, RAM’s trucks, while not the best, are very competitive, and Jeep is…well, Jeep. The original SUV. ’nuff said.

    It’s pretty interesting that FCA is in the position to be most hurt by the contraction in regular car sales/interest, but is also in the best position to benefit from increased interest in SUVs and crossovers.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    And yet Toyota just BARELY outsold FCA by 1000 units.

    Also, pretty sure that Alfa Romeo’s 36 units is an increase from July 2015’s 25 units, so it is misleading to lump Alfa into the rest of FCA’s car divisions with the implication they are down.

    Just wait until the Alfa crossovers arrive and you’ll see some real volume.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      This is a place to discuss– passionately– how bad everyone else’s car is, it is not a place to state facts.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      And Toyota outearned FCA in the last year by about $20,000,000,000.00

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      It’s not the sales number but the profit produced – which comes from the breakeven numbers on each given product/plant.

      If Toyota is selling fewer with rationalized plant lines, fewer plants, more flexibility with and/or fewer line workers, which leads to a higher per-unit profit or a lower breakeven mark…they’re doing it better.

      Studebaker was selling quite a few units in the 1950s. Failure to control costs led to a loss on what they did sell…each year for a decade.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Eh, I feel like if this was the 90’s Chrysler would have decontented the crap out of the 200/Dart, slashed the price, and sold them by brute force. While this is of course not considered good practice in a US which has an economy (and auto industry) more vulnerable than we thought, it’s not like not selling them at all is any better.

    The LX cars are perfect in every way and lead their segment regardless of what context you put those sales in, same with the minivans, all the crossovers sell like crazy, even the sucky noncompetitive ones like the Compass and Journey sell despite Chrysler’s best efforts to replace them.

    They just have to dump the failed Fiat/Alpha experiment and dump the 200/Dart (the rebadged Mazda plan doesn’t sound so bad).

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      I mentioned Mazda in my post uptop. I agree with you.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      I mentioned MMazda in my post uptop. I agree with you.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      I can’t wait to pick up my next 300 during a really low quarter, when I can buy one for relative peanuts. I’m thinking Platinum edition in Jazz Blue with the cream interior. Whoa!

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Sergio was handed Chrysler/Dodge/Ram/Jeep for free in 2009 (note: No one else wanted them). FCA hasn’t done a bad job with keeping things modern with occasional updates and models; as a result we’ve gotten some interesting cars like the 500, 500X, 500L and 124 (I love the 124). What has hit FCA hard is all the money dumped in the futile exercise of Alpha, that Fiat is no longer a major player in their traditional worldwide markets, and they just can’t seem to get their cars near the reliability level of the Japanese or Koreans.

      IMO the Dodge Ram, Jeep Wrangler and GC, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger are all very attractive cars. But I demand Japanese-level reliability, and FCA ain’t got it.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    FWIW ;
    .
    The Bike Pimp came down from Oregon for a visit and rented a V6 Dodge Charger , took me for a ride in it .
    .
    I didn’t much like the visibility out but it went like stink with two big guys in it , had ice cold AC , was nearly silent (until he romped it) , no squeaks and rattles .
    .
    I’d not buy one but then I’m not a Pony Car kinda guy .
    .
    I’d think these are perfectly fine cars for to – day’s driver’s .
    .
    -Nate

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    If I can be a little meta for a moment: This is a well-researched, well-written article – love the sectioning and inline images along the way, and look, actual headings!

    Lets hope we see more articles like this on TTAC going forward. :)

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Sergio just doesn’t seem to get Chrysler/Dodge. Chrysler’s line-up should have been expanded with a near-luxury CUV. The Journey should have been updated long ago and Dodge also given a CRV fighter. Too much energy has been expended bringing a niche product like Alfa Romeo back to North America.

  • avatar
    Sid SB

    Kind of explains some of the good deals am seeing at the local dealer for Charger RT’s. Getting tempted to take a test drive, though really would like the Scat Pack (if money grew on trees). That said, super track pack on the RT is good enough at the right price.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “200 production could stop by the end of 2016.”

    Nope, it’ll continue for quite a while longer than that.

    Also, there are a lot more forces at work here than merely “what the customers want” as is intuitive to the outsider. I should really write an article about this some day.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      Why would it? The same line could (relatively) easily be re-tooled to make more Cherokees (same platform), which both sell better and make more money for FCA. If I were Sergio, I’d be shutting down 200 production as soon as I could get away with it, and build Cherokees instead.

  • avatar
    ect

    “De-emphasization”? There is no such word. Not in English, certainly.

    Try “de-emphasis”.

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