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Chrysler, Fiat Brands Struggle in May But Will Stick Around

Executive Summary

Chrysler and Fiat brand sales were down 21.3% and 49.1%, respectively, based on daily sales rate. Overall, FCA US delivered 213,142 vehicles in the U.S. in May, a 7% increase over prior-year, according to Wards Intelligence data.

Jeep and Alfa Romeo continued growing sales volume in May for FCA US, while Dodge and Ram had a solid month as well. But Fiat and the depleted Chrysler brand, scraping by with flat sales of its Pacifica minivan, stumbled badly.

Overall, FCA delivered 213,142 vehicles in the U.S. in May, a 7% increase over prior-year based on the daily sales rate, according to Wards Intelligence data. There were 26 sales days last month compared with 25 in May 2017.

The automaker says U.S. retail sales in May rose 10% to 167,785 units, making it the highest sales month since July 2005. Retail sales accounted for 78% of total sales. Fleet deliveries accounted for 22% of the total, a slight uptick from 21% prior-year.

Chrysler sold 14,724 vehicles in May in the U.S., a 21.3% drop based on DSR. Most of Chrysler’s deliveries came from the Pacifica (11,151 units, down 8.5%) while sales of the fullsize 300 sedan were down 14.1% to 3,484 units.

Fiat in the U.S. sold a mere 1,441 vehicles in May, down 49.1% based on DSR. The brand’s volume leader was the 500X compact CUV, with 568 units for the month, down 21.4%.

The future for both the Chrysler and Fiat brands has been in doubt as CEO Sergio Marchionne says they don’t contribute much to the bottom line. FCA is hosting Capital Markets Day in Turin, where brand strategies are being discussed. Late in the day, company executives said both Chrysler and Fiat brands will remain in the corporate fold.

Jeep sold 97,287 vehicles last month, a 23.9% gain from prior-year based on DSR. The all-new Wrangler led the way and set a monthly sales record with 25,102 deliveries (up 21.1%) followed by the Cherokee (23,789 units, up 56.4%). The all-new Compass found 17,327 new customers in May.

Ram brand deliveries reached 50,732 units last month, down 1.4% based on DSR. The fullsize Ram pickup achieved 45,629 deliveries in May, up 1.3%. The automaker says Ram’s light-duty retail sales rose 18% in the month. The ProMaster cargo truck was the brand’s No.2 volume player with 4,092 deliveries, down 7.1%.

Dodge had a decent month, with its Caravan minivan its most popular offering, achieving 15,487 sales in May, up 8.2% based on DSR. No.2 for Dodge was the Journey, with 10,966 deliveries, up 31.9%.

Overall, Dodge sold 46,581 cars, SUVs, minivans and crossovers in May, basically flat with prior-year based on DSR. Sales slipped for Dodge’s muscle car duo, the Challenger coupe (7,005 units, down 3.9%) and Charger sedan (6,869 units, down 12.3%).

Alfa Romeo continues contributing incrementally to FCA sales with 2,377 units in May, thanks to the arrival from Europe of the Stelvio CUV (1,183 units for the month) and Giulia sedan (1,175 units).

tmurphy@wardsauto.co

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