FCA's Cars Fall Harder And Farther In June, Jeep Doesn't Care
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.
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.
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).
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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