Midst Yet Another FCA Sales Decline, Jeep Shows Powerful Signs of Life

midst yet another fca sales decline jeep shows powerful signs of life

September 2017 sales at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles decreased on a year-over-year basis for a 14th consecutive month, extending a stretch of declines that began in August of last year.

For much of that time span, the U.S. automobile industry was reporting declining sales, as well. And for much of that time span, even as total U.S. auto sales kept on sliding, SUV/crossover sales were rising. For much of that time span, Jeep sales were falling.

Technically, officially, Jeep sales kept on falling in September 2017, the U.S. auto industry’s first month of improved sales this year.

But if you’d just ignore the Jeep Patriot for a moment, we can look at a clearer picture.

Jeep’s precipitous decline from the lofty record heights of 2016 — by which point U.S. Jeep volume had essentially doubled in four years — actually began before 2016 even ended. Had the growth rate Jeep achieved over the course of 2016 extended through 2017, Jeep would have closed in on 1 million sales in 2017, just in the U.S. alone.

Instead, Jeep began 2017 with a first-quarter in which sales tumbled 11 percent. By the end of the first-half, Jeep was off last year’s pace by 13 percent. By the end of August, the brand’s volume was down by nearly 82,000 units.

Granted, September won’t be looked back upon as the month in which Jeep was restored to full health, perched at the peak of the SUV arena the seven-slat brand has every reason to consider ripe for domination. Total volume was down 4 percent in a market which grew 6 percent; in a light truck market that jumped 12 percent.

But much of Jeep’s decline in September, nay, all of Jeep’s decline in September can be traced back to one model.

A discontinued model.

A soon to be forgotten model.

An oft-despised model.

The Jeep Patriot.

Jeep sold 12,316 Patriots at this time last year, the second-highest monthly total in the nameplate’s history. Comparisons with such a performance are misleading at best, useless at worst.

Examine Jeeps other vehicles for a better idea of September’s success. As FCA continues to decrease its reliance on fleet sales — GM sold 21 percent of its vehicles to fleets in September; Ford Motor Company 24 percent — to the tune of 16 percent of the company’s total volume, FCA’s recent sales results are a more accurate representation of true demand.

Non-Patriot Jeep sales rose 12 percent, twice the rate of growth experienced by the industry at large. While the aging Cherokee continued its dive, the Grand Cherokee continued its climb, rising 20 percent to 22,270 units. The subcompact Renegade jumped 38 percent to 9,350 units. Wrangler volume rose 10 percent. The Compass registered its best month ever, shooting up 75 percent to 11,356, its first-ever five-digit month.

With a new Wrangler due soon, Jeep is about to experience a world of positive attention, attention that may well pay dividends across the lineup. Jeep boss Mike Manley said in July that the brand was positioned right where it expected to be at this point.

We’re beginning to see the reason Manley was optimistic about a forthcoming turnaround.

[Image: Jeep; Chart: The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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  • Eyeofthetiger Eyeofthetiger on Oct 04, 2017

    Poor Jeep. I continue hoping FCA will not ruin the new Wrangler. Jeep should have discontinued a few more models in addition to the Patriot. The Compass and Fiat Renegade should quietly disappear. Focus on quality and reliability with the two Cherokees and Wrangler. Make stripped down trims of the Cherokee and Wrangler to take the place of the crappy compact crossovers. If you really need to do something crazy, make a Wrangker pickup truck. Just stop putting "Jeep" badges on jacked up Fiat cars.

    • Vulpine Vulpine on Oct 05, 2017

      "The Compass and Fiat Renegade should quietly disappear." Why, Brakeless? The Renegade in particular is a quite good car and the new Compass is slightly larger with a more streamlined shape, fitting into a pricing bracket that is not all that well covered by other brands. Their performance is quite remarkable for their size (yes, I am disputing certain "reviewers' " reports) and certainly comfortable to ride in and drive. And the Renegade I own is as well equipped as a Cherokee costing $8K more.

  • Vaggo Vaggo on Oct 05, 2017

    Sorry to be pedantic but i think your sept 2016 chart is incorrect, your article states there are 12316 patriot sales in 2016, however the chart shows the same value for patriot and compass(6482). Also this: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-midst-and-amidst

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