Jeep Sales Boost Chrysler Sales as Pickup Growth Slows

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Year over year, sales rose 8% at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) in June to 185,035 units, the company’s best June sales level since 2006. The Jeep brand posted its best June sales ever, with Patriot sales up 41%, Wrangler sales up 17% and Cherokee sales up 39%. All are monthly records.

The company’s sales total was once again short of analyst estimates. Analysts at Kelley Blue Book (KBB) had projected sales at 189,000, and Edmunds had projected about 187,000 sales in June.

The better news for Chrysler is that its average transaction price rose by 3.8% year over year in May to $34,352. That is a jump of 0.6% month over month and 3.9% year over year.

The company’s Jeep brand sold 71,529 units in June. Jeep has now set a sales record for 21 consecutive months. The company’s all-new Jeep Renegade sold 4,858 units, up 10% month over month. April was the model’s first full month of availability.

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Last week the company announced that it would delay the introduction of a redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee from 2017 until late 2018 or 2019. Chrysler will refresh the design for the 2016 model year as planned. The Jeep brand president said that the current version continues to sell well and that acceptance is “very strong.” He expects next year’s refresh to carry the enthusiasm from the Grand Cherokee through to the new redesign dates.

Ram pickup sales rose 1% in June to 33,332 units, after posting a 2% year-over-year sales increase in May. Last year, Ram sold 33,149 pickups in June. For the first half of 2015, Ram pickup sales are up 4% to 212,716 units and total brand sales are up 8% to 230,946 units. Ram pickups had their best June sales in 11 years, but the monthly increases are getting smaller.

Year over year, sales of the company’s Chrysler brand are up 28%, as sales of the new Chrysler 200 rose 153% year over year to 18,560 units on top of a 573% year over year gain in May. Year to date, Chrysler 200 sales are up 136% and Chrysler brand sales are up 21%.

The company’s Dodge brand sales were down 14% year over year in June and are now down 16% for the year to date. The bright spot for the brand came in sales of its Challenger, up 56% to 6,845 units. Sales of the venerable Caravan dropped 40% in May and are down 49% for the year.

Chrysler projected a seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales in the United States from all manufacturers at 17.5 million units for 2015, lower than last month’s projection of 17.9 million. The company ended the month with 78 days supply of inventory, up from 69 days of supply at the end of May.

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Chrysler’s shares traded fractionally higher early Wednesday at $14.70, having closed down about 2.9% on Tuesday at $14.53. The current 52-week range is $8.54 to $17.08.