Once again, strength at Jeep and Ram led Chrysler Group (FIATY.PK) to post a 14 percent surge in deliveries volume during the month of April, making for the 49th consecutive month of volume gains thanks to a 52 percent jump at Jeep, a 22 percent spike at Ram, and a 10 percent gain at Fiat.
The Dodge brand remained flat year-on-year for April, and Chrysler sales took a hit of 21 percent versus the same month a year ago, but Jeep’s six consecutive months of 30-plus percentage-point gains has kept Chrysler Group moving ahead. Buoyed by the new Cherokee, Jeep moved 59,754 units during the month, and it’s expected that volume at the brand will only increase further once the new entry-level Renegade is released.
Chrysler’s light-truck deliveries gained 34 percent, offsetting a slide of 26 percent in car volume over the month. However, Chrysler is optimistic that the later category will catch up as the weather becomes more favorable. “The spring selling season is heating up, as our Jeep brand had its best monthly sales ever. Both of our minivans had a strong April and the Ram pickup truck had its best April sales ever,” said Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Chrysler Group.
Chrysler, in its statement released on Thursday, projected that April SAAR will reach 16.3 million, including medium and heavy-duty trucks. The company has a 74-day supply of inventory across the board.
There are a couple of things to be watching for at Chrysler as the year progresses. So far this year, Ram has shown considerable sales prowess that, while largely leaving Ford’s (NYSE:F) F-Series alone, has posed a significant threat to the Chevy (NYSE:GM) Silverado, as it even surpassed the Silverado in sales in March.
Chevrolet countered with some aggressive discounts and incentives, but Ram has the 28 mile-per-gallon EcoDiesel in its stable — the same truck that sold more than 8,000 units in its first three days on sale. This could be only the beginning of a drawn-out battle between the two that will last throughout the year and beyond.
It’s also worth noting that Jeep has found immense success in the Cherokee, despite its detractors (“It’s not a real Jeep!”). This implies good tidings for the upcoming Renegade, an entry-level Jeep that, although it possesses — or has the option to possess — Jeep’s all-wheel drive setup for less-favorable roads, is definitely aimed more that the urban errand runner than the avid off-road enthusiast. Coupled with the immense success that compact crossovers have been experiencing, the Renegade should play a significant role in Chrysler Group’s sales volume down the road.
Steven Szakaly, the chief economist of the National Automobile Dealers Association, told Automotive News that low interest rates, the introduction of new or redesigned models, and improving housing and labor markets continue to bode well for U.S. light-vehicle sales. “The broader economy is very strong,” Szakaly told the publication.