Fiat Chrysler Brands Rolled Snake Eyes in August

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) reports monthly U.S. sales figures on six brands. In August five of those posted year-over-year sales declines.

FCA’s marquee brand is Jeep where sales dropped 15% year over year to 73,191 units. Some of the brand’s models — Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, Renegade — posted gains, but Cherokee sales were down 50% and Patriot sales were off 78%.

China’s Great Wall Motor Co. was rumored to be interested in acquiring the Jeep brand last month, but both carmakers said that didn’t happen and Great Wall may no longer be interested — if it ever really was.

FCA’s Dodge and Ram brands sold a nearly identical number of vehicles in August: 43,608 for Dodge and 43,322 for Ram. Both were down 2% year over year. For the year to date Ram sales are up 5% and Dodge sales are down 5%. The new Dodge Caravan is carrying that division while sales of Ram pickups are eroding, down 7% last month.

Chrysler performed worst of all the company’s brands, down 33% year over year and down 24% for the year to date. Only the new Pacifica crossover posted a sales gain (2%) while the second-best selling Chrysler vehicle, the 300, dropped by 23% year over year.  

The most in-demand vehicles among U.S. car buyers are SUVs and crossovers. But refreshed designs — like the Grand Cherokee — sell best. The new Chrysler Pacifica did well for a while but sales have flattened. U.S. buyers couldn’t care less about Chrysler’s 200 (which is being discontinued) or the 300.

In the same vein, the only passenger car with a Dodge badge that anyone wants to buy is the new Challenger. Sales were up 19%, but to a total of just 6,253. That’s not enough to keep FCA afloat.

The Fiat brand saw a month-over-month-drop of 23% in sales, to 2,120 units last month. For the year to date sales are down 14%. Only the new Spider sports car is selling well, but that’s because it’s new this year. Fiat’s other problem is a poor reputation for quality.

And FCA’s dab of good news: Alfa Romeo sold 1,140 cars this year compared to just 37 last year. Be still my beating heart.