By on January 28, 2017

2015 Dodge SRT Hellcat

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles rocketed out of the recession with year-over-year U.S. sales increases, eventually erasing the sudden deficit of buyers that led to its bankruptcy. Between 2009 and 2015, the resurgent automaker went from a measly 931,402 U.S. sales to a healthy, cash-generating 2,243,907.

Those gray skies sure did clear up. Happy days!

Now for last year’s sales tally: 2,244,315. Notice something unusual? That’s right, FCA tacked on just 408 sales in 2016 compared to a year prior. While sales growth can’t be counted on like the rising and falling of the sun, especially in a market that has reached a tentative plateau, it’s nonetheless concerning for FCA. The sales juggernaut sits idle in the water, yearning for headway.

Is the automaker’s problem simply that there aren’t enough places to buy Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, Ram and Fiat vehicles?

With about 2,500 dealerships scattered throughout the union, most would answer that question with a solid “no.” However, that isn’t stopping FCA from adding an extra 400 dealers to its network, Automobile News reports.

Two dealer sources, as well as one within the company, claim that the expansion is already underway in several markets, including Houston. The new dealer push is all about protecting FCA’s market share, they claim. One remarked that the extra dealers were needed five years ago.

The automaker hasn’t confirmed the plan.

FCA’s fourth-quarter earnings report, released this week, painted a less-than-rosy picture for the automaker. Its share of the U.S. market fell to 11.3 percent by year’s end — a loss of 1.5 percent compared to third-quarter results. General Motors, Toyota and Ford loom far ahead.

For FCA, more presence from an expanded dealer network is as good an idea as any.

[Image: Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles]

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109 Comments on “As Sales Flatline, Fiat Chrysler Launches New Dealership Blitz: Report...”


  • avatar
    Cactuar

    I fear this would give existing dealers more competition, driving prices even further down.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Cactuar, I believe pricing is the problem today for the flatline in sales. In 2011 when we bought a Grand Cherokee for my wife the dealership in Phx discounted 10%. These days if you want to buy a 2017 Grand Cherokee, the dealer has the price jacked up 3%-5% OVER MSRP, using standard padding methods like silicone sealer on the clear coat finish, or a desert sun pkg, or filling the tires with nitrogen, or whatever,

      It is all detailed on the dealer prep sticker, with comments like “etched window glass”, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Like I said, there are those dealerships that are out to screw both sides. Maybe not a majority, but enough to really hurt the brand overall.

        Personally, I think it’s time to kill the franchising process altogether but the American legal system won’t let them do it.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      That’s a problem for dealers more than automakers. Though once the channel gets stuffed it can be a problem once the dealers start complaining that they need more programs to move the metal.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    The bankruptcy killed the future FCA in this respect. There were many profitable dealerships forced to close as a result of the bankruptcy. Interestingly, most of them were in outlying areas, not larger metro areas. This gave all the business to the GM & Ford dealers, and folks in those areas now exclusively drive those brands. FCA will probably never get those customers back unless dealers are willing to operate at a loss for a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      You have a point. In many small towns, you don’t buy from Chrysler; you buy from the John Hanson Chrysler dealership (I just made the name up). Or, more specifically, you buy from Gus at John Hanson Chrysler, your old high school friend that you’ve known since you were in kindergarten and can trust. It’s about the relationships you forge, the people that own the dealerships, the people who work at the dealerships, and what their names and reputations mean to you. There’s less competition if the dealership can keep good, reputable salespeople and managers on, who can often survive on a pool of repeat business. You close those stores down, and the salespeople and their customers will just go somewhere else nearby.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        In the 70’s and 80’s the local Dodge/Chrysler dealer went bankrupt a few times. The current FCA dealer is part of a national chain with their own financing. Repo lots tend to be full of FCA stuff in my region.

        • 0 avatar
          yesthatsteve

          A suburb near me had a standalone dealership for each brand: Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep. All were owned by the same family, and had been for at least two generations. In the bankruptcy, each one had its franchise agreement pulled. All that’s left is a small used car lot in a different location on the same road.

      • 0 avatar

        My parents actually used to buy Chryslers and Plymouths from that exact kind of dealer- a one-car showroom place that had been around since the early 1900’s – and who my dad had gone to high school with one of the owners.

        They lost their franchise in the great bankruptcy of 2008 despite having a really good reputation, and now sell used cars and Massey Ferguson tractors.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        Why do people still insist on building ‘relationships’ with what is, in the end, a retail operation? Especially for first-party manufacturer-affiliated sales. I don’t care if the idiot who was next in line when I walked in the door has a winning smile or pictures of his kids on his desk, I care if they can get the paperwork done in less than an hour and that their price is within n% of the MSRP. I want as much relationship with my ‘sales guy’ as I have with the person in the blue shirt who tells me where they’ve moved things now at Best Buy.

        If you could buy cars from a big vending machine, it would make the entire process better, front to back. There is no need for the human sales element in the process anymore, other than to convince people who are incapable of making good financial decisions that they can afford something they shouldn’t buy. It’s even more magnified in ‘small towns’ where those big ‘Family’ dealerships represent a significant part of the economic activity of the area.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          While not totally accurate, ellomdian, you’re reasonably close; direct sales would be a lot easier–for those who truly know what they want.

          However, very few buyers go into a dealership with more than a vague idea of what they want and it’s the salesperson’s job to make that determination and trial a number of vehicles to narrow that choice down. Of course, that salesperson is also going to try to put that customer into the most car they (think) they can afford. But it goes beyond that too; if the customer buys a car from that salesperson and truly enjoys the vehicle they picked, then that customer will return anywhere from 3 to 8 years later and seek to buy a new one. If, simultaneously, said salesperson has kept in touch during service visits and the occasional greeting card (birthday, Christmas, maybe anniversary,) then the customer is more likely to buy from that same dealership and salesperson. It’s a long-term commitment that can result in repeat commissions if the salesperson does the job right.

    • 0 avatar
      incautious

      Zip you are correct. Chrysler wiped out many long time dealers in 2008-2009. Now some had terrible satisfaction scores but moved lot’s of iron(ie Wayne Dodge in NJ)Others didn’t move a lot of cars but had strong scores and a stellar reputation(ie Tator Dodge in Ct.) So Chrysler is responsible for it’s own dealer issues.Chrysler really needs fresh new product. The 200 was a disaster mainly because of the 9 speed transmission and rear seat ingress. Then there is the transmission shifter debacle. Bad press will kill car sales. Of course lousy reliability scores will not help the situation either. Just my 2 cents

  • avatar
    dwford

    This makes no sense. Sales flatlined because of stale products and incomplete product lines at every brand, not because of a lack of dealers.

    • 0 avatar
      mtmmo

      Bingo.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Spot on but FCA’s problem don’t end there.

      For starters, all of their brands are languishing at the very bottom of the reliability rankings.

      Speaking of brands, they are a mess. With the exception of Jeep, all their brands lack identity and focus which makes effective marketing all the more difficult.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        To me, there is reason for Chrysler or Fiat to exist. Kill them both, and fold Ram back into Dodge, and give Maserati back to Ferrari – for free if need be.. That leaves you with Dodge, Jeep, Alfa Romeo. All 2 have strong brand characteristics – sporty, adventurous, etc. Dodge can easily return to being a full line automaker, Jeep is all set as it is, and Alfa Romeo can be fleshed out as a full line luxury brand sharing chassis with Dodge.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          dwford,
          FCA does not have adequate resources across the board to improve or lift the business out of the rut it has found itself in for God knows how many years now.

          Pickups and Jeeps in the NA market is FCA

          Historically Fiat and Chrysler have been failing in the global market.

          FCA can’t improve. FCA is trying to produce cheap and nasty products for the bargain hunter.

          Even Jeep finds it hard in the international market due to its inconsistent quality. Ram is only viable in the US/Canadian market.

          FCA will not survive and increasing dealerships is not the answer as this does not address FCA’s core problems.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Alfa Romero as a luxury brand? LORD! Do some research! Alfa has always been a sporty brand; Maserati was the luxury brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        That statement I have to disagree with, Carguy. FCA’s brands most certainly have identity across the board; the problem is that AMERICANS are stuck up on a 40-year-old reputation that the brands most certainly do NOT deserve and that’s what’s hurting them. Jeep and RAM may be FCA’s two most popular brands here, but Fiat, Alfa, Maserati and Lambo are all reasonably popular elsewhere. Heck, we just watched several Lamborghinis race 24 hours at Daytona just this past weekend.

        No, as I said above, it’s the old-school Americans that are hurting FCA, not the brand itself. I’m an exception that proves the rule because I have owned a modern Fiat 500 and really enjoyed it and even now own a Fiat-based Jeep Renegade that is absolutely surprising in its capabilities for what it is. Sure, it’s not a rock-crawler; I didn’t buy it for that purpose. But so far nothing has stranded it, either. Tell you this much, when people swing out beside me expecting a slow launch from a red light, they tend to see my taillights before they even get rolling good. Thing is, I’m not even pressing the pedal all that hard, much less flooring it.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The quality of those dealerships is a big part of the question. FCA tried once to get rid of a number of problematical dealerships because their sales numbers were too low and there have been ongoing complaints about how some dealerships are out to screw both FCA and the customer. I know of at least two such dealerships within 20 miles of me and the best dealership is over 40 miles from me (an independent rather than ‘chain’ franchise.)

    FCA needs to find a way to divest themselves of the abusive corporate chain dealerships and require any franchisee to ONLY sell FCA products and not everything on the market. This would make that dealership hungrier to make sales and very probably treat both the manufacturer and the customer better.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      That’s an interesting observation, but here in Denver, the only decent FCA dealerships ARE the corporate operations. The local dealers here are “Dealin’ Doug” and Christopher, both of which are only slightly nicer to deal with than a rug merchant in a middle eastern bazaar.

      I once shopped for a van at a Dealin’ Doug place. I rolled on the lot, and before I was even out of the car, I was accosted by some idiot in a polyester suit, speaking some exotic foreign language (Russian, I believe) with a cell phone in both ears. He actually tried to direct me to a parking spot with one of his elbows. I drove off.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      FCA tried that early on after Fiat/Sergio moved in. They insisted dealers offer Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep/Ram together, and dropped quite a few dealers who had only Dodge/Jeep (including “Dodge” Ram) or Chrysler/Dodge but no Jeep. The result was the loss of several well-positioned dealers who had to choose between dropping their FCA vehicles or dropping other, usually Japanese, makes.

      In some cases, they didn’t get to choose. One San Diego dealer of Pontiac and Mazda had a Chrysler/Plymouth franchise, and when he tried to acquire a Jeep franchise that was moving, had the Chrysler/Plymouth franchise taken away and was given a Dodge franchise. Then despite making it profitable and having the largest Mopar parts business in the city, the new FCA management voided the franchise, leaving him with Mazda alone after Pontiac was killed. The dealer said GM was professional about the Pontiac closing, but there was no trust or loyalty involved with FCA.

      The bankruptcy forced dealer closings without regard for profitability, for both GM and FCA. This move is an attempt to repair the damage, but as you mentioned, the dealers are much more wary, and if that dealer’s experience is typical, FCA has a real problem with dealer relations.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        My point, Lorenzo, is that a corporate style with multiple DIFFERENT franchises tends to lack the hunger that seems to make a good dealership a great one. Sure, you’re going to have some like Freed Mike describes but if a corporate focuses on one manufacturer rather than cross-branding, then they seem to present a better face to both sides of the sale.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I know of one FCA dealership here in the Oklahoma City metro that does terribly by potential and actual customers alike. But the whole dealer group is terrible, so it’s not just FCA. Their Chevy and Ford dealerships are just as bad.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Now for last year’s sales tally: 2,244,315. Notice something unusual? That’s right, FCA tacked on just 408 sales in 2016 compared to a year prior. ”

    Reminds me of a bit in the movie “Serenity”:
    Captain Mal:
    Jayne, leave the grenades here. We don’t need them.

    Two hours later, as they’re being chased by insane flesh eating mutants:
    Jayne:
    Boy, it sure would be nice if we had some GRENADES, don’t you think?

    Now, what impact would a decent-selling compact or midsize have on their bottom line? Plenty. And it might give all those new dealers something else to sell.

    I don’t see FCA’s strategy as being anything other than “pump Jeeps and Rams until someone buys us.” And the fact that they’re thinking about adding new dealers tells me one thing: they want to sell themselves to a company that has no dealer base of its’ own.

    Well, they did speak a lot of Chinese in “Firefly,” didn’t they?

    The only way FCA gets shiny is for them to sell themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      “Now, what impact would a decent-selling compact or midsize have on their bottom line?”

      That’s a long wait for a train don’t come.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I did read a pilot season was made for Firefly and Friends and the “winner” became the networks prime show. I can”t remember who or what regarding this.

      Firefly is the best SciFi I’ve seen. It is a pity that loss of a show Friends won.

      Oh, if anyone has not seen Firefly, watch the series first, then Serenity. Serenity wraps it all up.

  • avatar

    What FCA is a new branding campaign. They need to give some of their product a new distinct characteristic. There is a sea of products out there and if yours is only slightly different then you’re dead in the water. For example make a Dodge product the “the car that you need for work” or “the car that won’t quit” or “I’m not a car person” and add an extended warranty and extended oil changes – you will capture the people who aren’t typical car people and who want something dependable to get to work – and make it funny

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      The problem with dodge isn’t advertising or branding…It’s actually quite good. The product is pretty good too. The brand is sporty performance aimed at a younger crowd. The problem with that is that they don’t actually have any products that a younger crowd can afford!

      Challenger/Charger/Durango are all top notch unique vehicles that no one else offers anything quite like.

      The problems are:

      No sub compact, no compact, no midsize cars, hence no entry level low cost models. I recommend dodge drop the entry level price of the charger SE to 19,999 until they get something in the low end.

      Get a decent 4 cylinder engine out there ASAP and truly fix or ditch the 9 speed, consumers don’t like it.

      Kill or update the Journey and the Caravan, they bring down the image of the brand, build them off the new line that is building the Pacifica minivan.

      Jeep and “RAM” needs to always be sold alongside dodge, that way a customer can always get an SUV or Truck from the same dealership if they aren’t in the market for a car.

      Chrysler needs a lot of help too. Chrysler needs to remain a more upscale, luxurious version of dodge and also fill out their sedan line-up, they already have the upscale 300 and van. The 200 was a joke of a midsizer, just like the old Malibu, which also flopped, all they had to do was copy the dimensions of the Passat and it would have been a huge hit, however, the CUSW platform is a terrible platform, the wheelbase is way too short!

      Kill Fiat usa, fire Sergio, spin off alfa already, and stop putting money into Maseratti, all of those brands are losers in the market place. I don’t care what some Brittish guy says, that doesn’t sell cars.

      • 0 avatar
        mattwc1

        Agree on almost all points. The fact that Sergio decided to forgo any replacement/improvements for the Dart/200 leaves a serious void in the lineup. Add to that that current owners of said cars now have their residual values tanked. I loved the fact that Fiat/Maserati/Alfa Romeo were coming back to the States but the sad fact is that all brought respectively lackluster models to the fold.( I know the Levanti, and Alfa’s new sedan look very nice but the dealerships have languished without them.)

        The ZF 9 speed seems to be the deal breaker for many. It seems that every application it is used (including other brands) that the transmission is full of glitches.

        I am also aware that the market is focusing on CUVs/SUVs but an good entry level car is a proper gateway to get people in the door (ala Honda Fit)

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Speaking of the Levanti, I checked one out last Sunday (closed dealer).

          Opened and closed the driver’s door…utter junky feel. It felt far cheaper than my $18,000 Jetta. Trust me, when you open the doors of ANY of the vehicles this competes with, they’ll feel like freakin’ bank vaults. And this is on a $90,000 car…from a brand whose target market is old enough to remember rolling s**tstorms like the Biturbo.

          I’m predicting more fail for Maserati.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Maserati is just awful, disposable crap.

            My buddy had a new 2006 Maserati Quattroporte and how we laughed our a$$es off as its front axle snapped in two as we were heading westbound on M59 near Adams at 80mph.

            It had 6,000 miles on it at the time, and took the dealership 3 weeks to repair, and that was just the beginning of a series of serious and ghastly issues he had with that complete and total POS before he dumped it a year later at an astronomical loss.

            He’s Italian and I told him he’s an idiot for thinking he could reliably DD a Maserati.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Yeah, I was Not Impressed by the Levanti.

            The Quattroportes and Ghiblis I saw felt better sorted out…but at this point there’s no way I’d choose either over an S-Class or E-Class (and in truth, the Ghibli is probably closer to something like a C-class or BMW 3 in terms of interior room). And the pricing was ridiculous – $121000 for a Quattroporte? Spare me. Twenty grand more puts you in a S63 AMG.

            Gorgeous styling and interiors though…and the dealer facility in my neighborhood is quite impressive, which leads me to believe FCA is actually serious about the brand. But Maserati has a LONG way to go.l

  • avatar
    gasser

    2016 problems: crappy Chrysler 200, abandoned Dart and limited minivan production.
    Would adding more dealerships help these issues??
    How will dealerships react to adding more dealers in urban areas, where the rising sales numbers mean that the dealership can finally make some money? Who would be crazy enough to open a dealership in a previously abandoned zone, when there isn’t much or any of a base of service work to do? Is this the point in the auto sales cycle to open a new dealership??

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    My experience with the local FCA dealerships has been mostly positive… Autonation in Roseville appears to be doing very well. They certainly seem to be moving in a questionable direction product-wise though. All Hellcats and Jeeps on the showroom floor. But I’d still shop their products before I’d ever buy a GM car.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Autonation is pretty decent to deal with across the board, I’d say. I didn’t buy from them this time around, but my experience with them was positive. They run a few FCA franchise locations around here.

      But the other FCA dealers around here are old-school outfits, all infamous for high-pressure, Boiler Room style sales tactics.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        Most of the FCA dealers in the NW Ohio area are pretty decent places. Not perfect, by any means, but not bad. I have zero complaints about the two dealerships, owned by the same chain, that I have bought my last three vehicles from, with the exception of a minor issue that repeated attempts at fixing have failed to solve. I’m about to go back again and let them have another crack at it, but my wallet is pretty much shut at this point. If they can’t fix it, then I will give another, different owned dealership a shot at it. It’s a very small leak in the evap system, just enough to get a CEL, and so far, two smoke tests have failed to show anything, and last time they threw a part on and it didn’t work.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    The full story is that sales were flat, but profits were way up. This is a sign that their long-term strategy of not being “the cheapest new car you can find” is working.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I’m not sure if the problem is lack of dealerships or of product. FCA has all of 3 passenger cars and FIAT/Alfa. They couldn’t raise FIAT demand if they spaced the stores like Burger Kings. FCA gave up too quickly on the 200; I believe it could have been more successful with a redesigned roofline, more like the 300. It was quite nice inside, once you got in and if you could live with the available headroom.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I agree. I think an emergency long-wheelbase version could have done wonders without stealing customers from the 300.

      • 0 avatar
        Johnster

        In addition to being more competitive in the mid-sized segment, actually, I think it probably would have stolen some customers from the 300, but so what?

        At least the customers would have stayed within the Chrysler family. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Yes, FCA gave up on the 200 far too easily. I would have liked to have seen another generation of the Dart, too. I’d heard rumors of a Dart hatchback, which would have interested me greatly.

      Like GM did with the 2013 Malibu, they weathered the storm of criticism of the back seat and I believe FCA could have done the same with the new 200.

      But, I understand why they did what they did.

  • avatar
    Funky

    When my choice of local dealership closed I never again purchased another Jeep. The dealer had a good service department, a straightforward sales department, and it was easy to speak directly to the owners. They were forced by Chrysler/Fiat to close. They were part of the lawsuit (which was lost by all) that occurred after Chrysler/Fiat forced many dealerships to give up their franchises. There are other local Jeep/Chrysler/Dodge dealerships in this suburban area, but there was a reason I chose the one I chose. It’s too bad, really, because Chrysler/Fiat lost a good dealer and probably lost most of that dealer’s customers.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I believe FCA’s problem goes beyond dealership numbers.

    FCA need a decent vehicle lineup and improve its image as a manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Agree. But improving their image means building quality products that likely won’t sell well for a generation or two. There is no quick fix and I fear they lack the resources for a long term strategy.

  • avatar
    Dan

    FCA sales were flat but that the sales of individual product lines were anything but.

    They didn’t sell 155,000 200s and Darts, which they made no money on and had only brought to market in the first place because the California greenbean delegation made it a condition of receiving federal bailout money.

    They did sell another 40,000 Rams, 55,000 Jeeps, and 60,000 Pacificas instead.

    If that’s failure then bring on some more of it.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    The best way this would work is if they allowed all FCA dealers to sell and service the Fiat models. I believe it’s hard to sell a car to someone if they can’t see it, experience it. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the 500 other than it’s age, and at least the 500X is new.

    Next, FCA needs to import the Turkish Fiat Tipo and maybe brand it as a Plymouth. Since Dodge needs to be performance cars, Chrysler has been demoted to near luxury (and has been for at least 30 years now) and Fiat is all 500 all the time (another huge mistake) there’s nowhere else for it to be.

    Bring it in loaded (maybe not vibrating seat loaded, but better than rental spec) and priced sharply against the competition. Using the Japanese sales model, limit the colors and options. Open and sustain an advertising blitz on a number of different media channels. Too often, a new car comes out and gets a few months of national advertising and then… nothing. Or it’s left to the dealer association to market it. That has to change.

    I agree with others that good dealerships were shuttered along with the bad ones. I don’t doubt that some customers were lost forever. With a more aggressive marketing approach and dealers with full lines, more choice would be a great thing for both seller and buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      As anecdotal evidence on quality/reliability, I own a 2012 500 Abarth, the car has been problem-free for the 56 months I’ve owned it and has had the lowest maintenance cost of any new car I’ve ever purchased, including Hondas and Toyotas.

      Nothing but fun and grins.

      • 0 avatar
        Paragon

        That’s very good to hear, since there are some who want to suggest Fiats reliability is unchanged from 40 years ago. Oh, and frankly, the 500 Abarth should be the one Fiat model many on here would likely most enjoy, myself included.

  • avatar
    George Taramas

    FCA is on the right path. Ending production of dart and 200 was the right decision.
    The reason for less sales was this:

    “Fiat Chrysler laid out a strategy during its make meeting to further reduce sales to daily rental fleets in a bid to boost its lineup’s residual values and make leasing more affordable, dealers said.

    The automaker also gave dealers a more detailed look at its production shift away from small and midsized sedans in order to boost production of Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups, dealers said after the meeting.

    FCA has been lowering the percentage of monthly sales that it sells to fleet customers. In both August and September, before the push, the company reported that 24 percent of its sales in those months were to fleet customers. In October, 23 percent of sales were to fleet, declining to 21 percent in November and 19 percent in December. FCA has reported declining overall U.S. sales each month since September.

    “It’s a good strategy, especially in a market like mine that has strong leasing,” said Gary Brown, who owns Brown’s Jeep-Chrysler-Dodge on Long Island, N.Y., and is a former FCA National Dealer Council chairman.

    Another dealer from the Denver area, who declined to give his name, said FCA’s push to build more Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups was a welcome strategy in his market, where both are strong sellers.

    “They’re focusing where the demand is, in SUVs and pickups,” the dealer said. “Everything’s good.”

    Both a spokesman for the automaker and Jon Gray, current dealer council chairman, declined to comment after the meeting. Guards were posted well away from the meeting rooms to block reporters from standing outside.

    Several dealers said the meeting was productive and devoid of confrontations, though at least one dealer did reportedly ask if there are plans to enhance the product lineup for struggling Fiat. There was not, he was told, according to those in the room.”

    I guess that gm, ford and nissan will be the kings/queens of rental sales.
    Avis and hertz will buy more of those three…

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Dumping the new 200 into rental fleets is what pretty much killed it. They did in a couple of years what it took Ford 5 or so years to do to the Taurus in the 1990s. Fill the lot with low mileage versions (ex-rentals) of the new cars at a fraction of the price.

      It’ll be very easy to cut rental fleet sales now that they have cut their rental-grade small and midsize sedans.

      GM has cut rental fleet sales. Ford doesn’t dump nearly the amount of cars that way that they used to. For rental fleet queens, see Toyota as well as Nissan you mentioned.

      Or you can pretend these facts don’t exist, bury your head in the sand, and think the solution to slow selling cut rate vehicles is giving people more places to not buy them.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “In October, 23 percent of sales were to fleet, declining to 21 percent in November and 19 percent in December.”

      Dovetails nicely with the end of 200 production, doesn’t it?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Let’s face it, in a flat market, not every mfr can be above average.

    Small and mid-size cars may be declining, but FCA has essentially no presence there now, and very little before. A decent product in these markets would have helped some, but now they have nothing but the 500-everything.

    The beautiful 200 suffered from an unnecessarily tight back seat (huge trunk) and the terrible 9-speed automatic. The equally beautiful Dart never got the right engines.

    My closest Chrysler/Dodge dealer is as sleazy as they come, for both sales and service. You know it’s bad when other dealers verify this.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      In any market, only half the manufacturers can be above average.

    • 0 avatar
      Paragon

      SCE, of the three available Dart engines, I’ll suggest that the right engine is the 2.0L, especially when paired with the 6-speed manual. Or, if you prefer automatics, you still want the 2.0L. I test drove a new 2014 Dart with the 2.0L and 6-speed manual and found it just right for my mostly highway driving. And, no problem around town, too. Recently drove a used 2013 Dart Aero with the 1.4L turbo with Multiair and found it to be not only more than adequate, but great fun, too. And, I’ll share that that was also a 6-speed manual car.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    HELLCAT for all FCA products! HELLCAT HELLCATS! HELLCAT Jeeps! HELLCAT 200S and DARTs! HELLCAT RAMS! HELLCAT FIATS! HELLCAT ALFAS! HELLCAT 300S! BTSR Lives!

  • avatar
    John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

    LMAO

    “Guys, our awful cars aren’t selling. Demand for our outdated pickup is falling. Terrible performance from the Zf 9spd is probably killing the Pacifica and the crossovers (which wouldn’t be selling AT ALL without the Jeep name or low price and piles of cash on the hood (Journey)).

    Should we make better vehicles?

    No!

    Build more dealers! We will shove these products down customers throats!”

    • 0 avatar
      George Taramas

      Demand for our outdated pickup is falling….

      Do you have a master or just trolling????

      RAM

      All Models

      Market
      Share

      2016 542.884 3,10%
      2015 493.807 2,83%
      2014 469.139 2,84%
      2013 367.843 2,36%
      2012 300.928 2,08%
      2011 257.610 2,02%
      2010 212.952 1,84%
      2009 195.112 1,87%
      2008 286.484 2,16%
      2007 425.583 2,63%
      2006 462.236 2,79%
      2005 524.577 3,09%
      2004 549.315 3,25%
      2003 583.297 3,50%

      And what about pacifica??????????

      Chrysler

      Pacifica Minivan

      2016

      January
      February
      March
      April 487
      May 2.495
      June 7.207
      July 7.911
      August 7.459
      September 9.172
      October 7.758
      November 8.753
      December 10.283

      10.283 pacificas sold in december. And pacifica is in the same room with heavy discounted t&c’s and dodge caravan’s…

      Keep trolling!

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Yeah, George, Ram pickup sales are up. For now. What happens if we get a recession, which is bound to happen (and I’m not necessarily blaming Trump – our economy is cyclical, so the check’s in the mail no matter what)? What if gas prices go up, which I’d say is pretty much a foregone conclusion with an Exxon alumni three heartbeats away from the Oval Office?

        Pickup and SUV sales are particularly sensitive to economic downturns and gas prices. A double dip on that EVISCERATED Jeep and Ram sales in 2008. Look it up. Difference is, at least back then they had *something* to sell besides those products. Now, they don’t. I think that could spell trouble for them.

        And my question on Pacifica sales is this: yeah, they look impressive, but so did 200 sales at the end of 2015. Turns out FCA was pumping tens of thousands of them right into the Avis fleet. That killed the model in the long run. Does anyone know how many are Pacificas are being “sold” the same way? Or is this just another short-attention-span way to grab temporary market share, and then when the model fails, FCA says, “oh, well, minivans are a dying market anyway”?

        Their strategy is working…for now. But in the long run, it’s INCREDIBLY risky.

    • 0 avatar
      Manta9527

      Who’s to say that FCA can’t make better vehicles and simultaneously build more dealers? :)

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Is the automaker’s problem simply that there aren’t enough places to buy Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, Ram and Fiat vehicles?

    (eyeroll)

    No.

    Seriously, Sergio? Whatever psychedelics they’re putting in your wine, I want some.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      It’s not their only problem, and they are working on many of the other ones (like the whole “if you can find a cheaper car, buy it” thing).

      FCA knows how many cars they sell in every market, and where their customers live, relative to their dealers. They must have identified some markets where they are under-represented. Don’t all retail/franchise businesses do that?

      Any local market that doesn’t have a dealer, and that could support one, is money left on the table.

      Obviously, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t over-represented in other markets. Demographics change over time.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Never mind how can Chrysler survive – how is Chrysler a legit brand with a dead midsizer no one wants, a fullsize RWD sled that, wait for it, no one wants, and a minivan that despite being cool in itself (the Pacifica is cool), no one wants minivans.

    Not a single CUV/SUV in sight? Oh go to Jeep.

    At least if you go to a Buick/GMC dealer you can look at (well could) Enclave and Acadia, and they had different sheet metal and different interiors (the family resemblance unmistakable, but not “badge engineered”). Now you have Evision and Terrain also, and if you want a subcompact than the answer is Buick not GMC.

    Chrysler and Dodge have been so mismanaged, and that goes back more than just from FCA. It goes all the way back before the Dahlmeier merger.

    What the United States owners started, the Germans continued, the private equity guys kept up and now FCA is finishing.

    The only two things of any value is RAM and Jeep, and the only companies that might be interested in the dead remains of FCA, won’t want RAM as they have their own offerings.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Not every brand needs a full line when they’re all in the same showroom. Pundits seem focused on the Sloan model when Sergio isn’t at all.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Danio–Point taken and valid.

        However, we do need more everyday cars. It can’t all be racy Alfas/Dodges, expensive Maseratis, tiny FIATs– trucky Rams and rugged Jeeps. We need boring normal people cars too.

        Like the 200/200/Sebring/Cirrus/LeBaron. Something sedate, but well-styled. Something mildly aspirational to a normal pleeb like me :)

        Something we know is a Dodge, but that isn’t a Dodge in aesthetics or trim. Something just a little special. That’s Chrysler’s niche, and it is being left unexploited.

        Like the euro Chrysler neon. Like the 2011 300 Touring, with its nicer than broad/muslin, but still cloth seating. With some nice fake wood trim, standard chrome trim/wheels(even caps would work if they’re nice enough) Bring blue collar luxury back and watch what happens.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “we do need more everyday cars.”

          Yup, and I’m looking forward to the day that China starts selling cheaper everyday cars through Big Box stores in America.

          I remember a long, long time ago, in an economy far, far removed from today’s economy, when Germany, then Japan, and eventually South Korea started selling cheap every day cars in America.

          Remember the Daewoo and Charade? Forerunners of the Fiat 500 and Smart cars.

          WOW, since then they’ve come a long way, baby!

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            I don’t wish for Chinese vehicles and will never willingly purchase one with my own money.

            A nice midsized Chrysler that the CEO doesn’t publicly defame? I do wish for one of those.

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            Daewoo hasn’t gotten any better since they started selling in the U.S. Pontiac Lemans… oh yeah… and a Leganza for the win… no, not really. (They did import and rebadge the Honda Legend for a while in Korea, that was probably a very good car.)

            The Charade was a Daihatsu. I knew a guy who had two of them, and loved them. They have come a long way, well, actually, gone a long way, back to Japan.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Agreed, Danio, but what happens when (not if) the economy dips, or gas prices go up, or both?

        The last time that happened, Ram and Jeep sales were EVISCERATED. And they have no fallback now.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Part of the problem too.

          Find it a bit ironic that Toyotas lack of gas guzzling planet destroying vehicles (I say that with snark) is hurting their growth and reaching sales targets.

          Ironic.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          FWIW, the trucks and Jeeps do get much better fuel economy than in 2008.

          2008 Ram 1500 3.7L 2WD: 16
          2008 Ram 1500 5.7L 4WD: 14
          2017 Ram 1500 3.6L 2WD: 20
          2017 Ram 1500 5.7L 4WD: 17

          2008 Liberty 3.7L 4WD: 17
          2017 Cherokee 3.2L AWD: 23

          2008 Patriot 2.4L FWD CVT: 23
          2017 Renegade 2.4L FWD 9A: 25

          The 200 4-cylinder was only rated 2 MPG better than the FWD Cherokee 4-cylinder, and the 200 V6 was actually 1 MPG worse than a Cherokee FWD V6, so I don’t think the 200 would have bailed them out of $5/gal fuel anyway.

          The Cherokee, Renegade, and new Compass are FCA’s “normal cars” at this point.

          I think the biggest issue is that the 2.4L/9A combo kind of sucks and there is no reason for Dodge and Chrysler (and coming soon Alfa!!) to exist anymore.

        • 0 avatar
          MAGICGTI

          As said, crossovers get decent fuel economy now, there wouldn’t be as much pain as there was in 2008.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I’d love to buy a new Charger or Durango if the price was right. They are asking way too much for their vehicles for the Dodge brand and the age of the bones. They’ve got to have amortized the tooling by now. A Charger should start at 19,999, and a Durango at 24,999.

    Why should a consumer take a change on a dodge when they could get a midsizer from Honda or Toyota at equal or less price and have peace of mind?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” They are asking way too much for their vehicles for the Dodge brand and the age of the bones.”

      And a lot of people are walking away from the Fiatsler brand and doing exactly that, buying a midsizer from Honda or Toyota, and sometimes even from Nissan if they plan to trade the car before the factory warranty expires.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    We clean livers respond to Dodge products like we do neck tats. Fewer dealerships, please.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    Chrysler needs to bring in more models. Forget Fiat and especially forget Alfa Romeo. CJD is their bread and butter. Alfa Romeo is yet another yawn-inducing entry into the luxury market. Chrysler can take the place of A-R…the 300 is a great start. Establish and build upon that.

    Jeep and Dodge is OK, I suppose. They could have tried better with the Dart. RAM needs to go back to Dodge, even though I’m sure it has little effect on sales either way.

    They need to make it their goal to torpedo sales from Toyota/Kia/Hyundai and so on. They are halfway there with good drivetrains, better fit and finish, etc., they just need to promote and expand.

    Alas, all the sweater guy seems to be interested in is Alfa Romeo.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      Maybe if they figured out how to build a vehicle that didn’t perform in an abysmal manner on the small overlap crash test.

      Everytime I even contemplate an FCA product, I look at the safety ratings and that brings me back to my senses.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Probably adding back the same points that were shut down during the bankruptcy.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Good chance at least a few of them will go to former dealers, but around here a lot of them were lost to the all under one roof plan. No more separate Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler dealers on my local auto row just one CDJR dealer.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    This was an interesting article. There was a nearby Chry/Dodge/Jeep store that opened in 2008, lasted about 12 months, closed up, and became a Kia store under a totally different ownership group after a year sitting empty.

    Now another owner group is building a new Chry/Dodge/Jeep store nearby.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “Is the automaker’s problem simply that there aren’t enough places to buy Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, Ram and Fiat vehicles?”

    Perhaps that’s the case, or is the reason for flat sales is that their products are junk, and buyers are wise to Chrysler?

    I have no bone to pick with Chrysler, but I’ll never buy another one, even though I was a customer for over 20 years. Why? Fear. Fear of failing transmissions, bad engines (although I haven’t heard of any for years), and just poorer all-around quality compared to everyone else, etc, etc.

    Maybe I’m wrong…

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