By on November 3, 2016

2017 Jeep® Cherokee Trailhawk

After ending a 35-month streak of improved U.S. sales with a 3-percent year-over-year decline in September, Jeep volume slid 7 percent in October 2016, the second consecutive month of decline for the previously white-hot SUV brand.

Jeep’s best-selling Cherokee recorded the most significant plunge in October 2016, falling 23 percent from year-ago levels to rank third in Jeep sales. Only the Grand Cherokee, quickly becoming Jeep’s top seller, and the departing Patriot posted October improvements.

Jeep, so often the engine behind FCA’s growth when Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat have struggled, was instead partly to blame for FCA’s 10-percent October decline. 

THE OTHER NUMBERS
Make no mistake: Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat struggled in October, as well.

With minivan sales at Chrysler down and the brand’s car division off last October’s pace by 56 percent, total Chrysler volume was down 45 percent.

Dodge, essentially flat through the first three-quarters of 2016, tumbled 16 percent in October because of Challenger, Charger, Dart, Grand Caravan, and Durango declines.

Fiat, which actually reported a passenger car uptick, nevertheless took a 24-percent dive because the 500X lost 1,211 sales.

To be fair to Jeep, those consistently struggling brands were far more responsible for FCA’s October downturn. Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat produced 20,493 fewer sales in October 2016 than in October 2015, a 26-percent drop. Jeep volume decreased by only 4,879 units.

Jeep October 2016 sales chart

THE UGLY NUMBERS
So what went wrong in October?

Cherokee sales decreased for the sixth time in seven months. October’s 23-percent Cherokee drop followed an 11-percent decrease in September, a 7-percent drop in July, and a 12-percent June decline. After accounting for precisely one-quarter of Jeep’s U.S. sales in 2015’s first ten months, Cherokee volume is down 3 percent and its share of Jeep’s output is down to 22 percent.

Incidentally, the Cherokee’s eventual move to Belvidere, Illinois, will make possible the increased capacity Jeep also wants for the next-generation Wrangler at the off-roader’s Toledo, Ohio plant. But with the Wrangler nearing the end of its lifecycle, sales fell 7 percent in October. Wrangler volume is off last year’s pace by 6 percent so far in 2016.

The Jeep Compass, set to launch soon in second-generation form, also reported a 9 percent decrease. Sales of the Renegade, Jeep’s newest model, took a 9 percent hit. In fact, Renegade sales are down 7 percent over the last three months.

Jeep, which earned 5.9 percent of the overall U.S. market when sales hit a record all-time high in May, owned 5 percent of the market in October.

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited

THE PRETTY NUMBERS
The bigger picture tells a different story, however. Jeep sales are up 10 percent this year for nearly 70,000 additional U.S. sales in a ten-month period. Jeep’s annual sales record set last year will almost certainly be smashed in 2016.

Much of the credit goes to the flagship Grand Cherokee, which now trails its less costly Cherokee sibling by fewer than 100 units in the familial race to end 2016 as Jeep’s best-selling model. The Grand Cherokee is on track for its first 200,000+ sales year since 2005. Grand Cherokee sales have increased, year-over-year, in 14 consecutive months.

The addition of the Renegade, America’s best-selling subcompact crossover, is also paying dividends. The Renegade is responsible for adding 40,000 sales to Jeep’s U.S. ledger in 2016.

With two months remaining on the calendar, Jeep has already reported record annual Compass volume and is likely to end the year with all-time best Patriot sales.

In October, specifically, four of America’s 18 top-selling utility vehicles were Jeeps.

THE HIDDEN NUMBERS
Meanwhile, October’s results were perhaps not nearly as bad as a 7-percent downturn suggests. Because of a quirk in the auto sales calendar that extended “October” into November one year ago, October’s results from 2015 take into account 28 selling days. There were only 26 selling days in October 2016.

On a daily selling rate basis, then, Jeep sold 2,632 vehicles in October 2015; 2,647 in October 2016, a 0.6-percent improvement.

In fact, the industry as a whole was not as shaken as the red ink indicates. The daily selling rate improved 1 percent compared with October 2015 and October 2016’s annualized selling rate was the best so far this year.

Granted, any improvement can likely be traced back to incentives that jumped 16 percent from October 2015’s $3,100-per-vehicle rate, while decreasing 3 percent compared with September.

[Images: FCA]

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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24 Comments on “FCA Needs To Find The Hill Descent Control Button: Jeep Sales Slid Downhill Again In October...”


  • avatar
    memremkr

    Interesting. As the owner of a 2015 Cherokee I can tell you that the ZF 9 Speed Transmission launch in this product has likely left thousands of owners warning others to stay clear. Jeep may have resolved transmission hardware issues in 2016 but they left many owners of the 2014 – 2015 models to stew in “software update land”. Jeep did an update to resolve “durability issues” in 2014-2015 Cherokee models but left out the fact they were removing your 3-2-1 downshift, and leaving your vehicle with a new and general transmission malaise. It was easier to do that than crack open 10’s of thousands of transmissions to fix a snap ring installed wrong. Sergio’s failure to “make it right” chickens are coming home to roost.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Is it really an incorrectly installed snap ring? It’s a simple part, but requires a partial or complete teardown to fix.

      • 0 avatar
        memremkr

        On affected vehicles the snap ring (internal) was installed, rotationally, out of proper position. And yes it would require a tear down to properly resolve mechanically.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Tim Cain’s recent test drive of a 2016 Pacifica indicated the 9-speed was improved, but not fixed. His description made it seem unacceptable to me.

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/09/2017-chrysler-pacifica-fca-finally-sorted-zf-9-speed-automatic-nearly/

      This transmission turned me off during my one test drive of a Renegade, and I’ll forever avoid any product which has it, including Honda/Acura.

    • 0 avatar
      Hemi

      Can you elaborate on the “alleged” fix? I’ve been eyeballing buying a used 2013 or 2014 Cherokee but wanted to lease a new one bc of the 9speed fear. I read varying reports and that transmission scares me.

      What exactly is the 3-2-1 downshift removal? Does it go from 4th to 1st?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @Hemi:

        Leasing only limits the time you might hate driving the car. Worse, it traps you into having it for ~3 years, with no way out.

        My $0.02: Look elsewhere for your SUV/CUV.

      • 0 avatar
        memremkr

        When the vehicle was new it would downshift from 4-3-2-1 as speed decreased. This means it was reasonably “peppy” when the gas was applied if the vehicle slowed to say 5 miles per hour and you re-applied gas. After the software/firmware update the vehicle now downshifts automatically to third but does not drop to second or first until the vehicle comes to a complete stop (in all fairness it might downshift at 2MPH, but in any event its a near-stop).This means if you are on a very level road the vehicle will literally idle along at 17-20 MPH in 3rd gear. That in and of itself takes some getting used to as the expected engine braking is no longer there. If you are unfortunate enough to have an inclined drive way and hit it at the right speed, and need to get some acceleration, the vehicle will certainly downshift once the gas is applied but it can be quite a “thunk” since you are slowly rolling in 3rd and not second or 1st when the gas is re-applied on that incline. I’m actually taking my vehicle in next week for another software update (they come fairly frequently) but I do not think that I’ll see the 3-2-1 downshift return as it appears removed to lessen the overall stress on the 2014-2015 transmissions. Bottom line is that many of us felt suckered by a suggested update that in the end was due to an FCA issue but resolved at owner expense without fixing root cause. Outside of the transmission it really is a great vehicle (in my opinion). I would absolutely not take ownership of a 2014 or 2015, based on what I have experienced, unless you want to worry what each passing mile may bring.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      Goodness gracious, they messed up a snap ring after Toyota got dragged thorough the mud on the 6 speed FWD transmission from 2007 for the same issue?

      Though I guess crap happens. Honda forgot to secure the wrist pins on some engines that they’ve basically made for the last 15 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Count sister and brother-in-law as rabid Cherokee detractors after the experience in the 2014. (That I talked them into buying, no less – their first American branded vehicle in about twenty years. And probably their last.)

      They just replaced it with a Kia Sedona. Actually, not replaced it, because the dealer is still trying to figure out what to do with the latest failure, so they just bought the new car (BiL is a PennDOT engineer and needs the transportation daily), and will sell off the Cherokee is finally fixed.

      Assuming it gets to that point.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @Syke
        Telephone sized book of complaints in Australia, so luckily it is not just us. Even Chinese sourced( there are not many) vehicles have had a lot less complaints

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    The Cherokee and Renegade have both been saddled with reliability issues from the start, so maybe people are getting over their newness and “cool” factor and are hearing (possibly exaggerated) stories from people that bought them earlier.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      See above comment. Little sister is definitely determined to try to ensure that nobody ever buys a Cherokee again.

      Then again, the last car they had that was this unreliable was my brother-in-law’s 1979 Austin Marina.

      • 0 avatar
        memremkr

        Its Karma at this point. It all about the numbers for FCA. I personally know of 5-6 actual sales that I’ve killed by telling my story to co-workers and many, many others. I’m not out grinding an axe either, only speaking when asked about the vehicle.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    False hope, temporary hiccup, foolish optimism… I can think of other contexts in which to place that slit-eyed porker’s momentary loss of momentum.

    But the damage is done; they’re out there.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    I want to know the hellz is buying all those Patriots?? Over 9500 people bought a Patriot. I think the nearly ancient Patriot outsold the Chrysler 200. I didn’t check to be sure, but I probably am. How does THAT happen? My guess is if you slap a JEEP name on something it will sell well.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Jeep brand & CUV seating position/ride height & low price = good sales, despite a cheap product that is past its expiration date for replacement.

      I’ve also seen quite a fair number of Patriots on rental lots, more than the Compass.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      It’s about the cheapest vehicle you can buy where YOU decide to put in 4WD. Cheap to buy, acceptable commuting beastie, and 4wd. Rinse, lather repeat, if you them.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    I think between the election and the LA Auto Show this month, people have shifted to “wait and see” mode in a lot of cases.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m not sure Chrysler (and what customers they have left) can much longer afford stay in business.

    Sell Jeep to Ford and kill the rest once and for all.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Chrysler is in excellent financial and product position, and I can’t believe you’d suggest otherwise. The 200 is an excellent car which is trashed by journalists because of lies, and all Fiats are only unreliable because of lies and bias.

      /s

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Zackman, think globally when it comes to FCA. Not that great in North America, does much better in Sooth America. I live in D.C. and I’m waiting to see well the new Alfa’s lease. The Agnelli’s still own Fiat and they’re not letting it go that easy. On a lighter note, I keep seeing a red Impala at Harris-Teeter and GM got the bright red on that car just right. I’ll be driving thru Cincy next week and the craving for Skyline is strong.

  • avatar
    enzl

    My wife’s ’15 Trailhawk V6 has been a steady and enjoyable ride. Since we lease, I have no long term fears, but the auto appears to work well and I think the angst is overblown.

    As someone who works for a number of dealer groups, there are many brands that have a similar performance in a number of vehicles (Nissan and its CVTs, Honda/Acura’s 9 speed, BMW engine noise, MB and its ‘A’ vehicles), the trope that FCA is any worse is not borne out in any of those service departments.


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