Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) reported Tuesday that March sales increased by 14% to 216,063 vehicles, compared with March 2017 sales of 190,254. The Jeep brand posted a sales increase of 45% year over year as sales of the new Wrangler jumped 70% to nearly 28,000 units and Compass sales soared 553% to 17,302 units.
The Jeep Patriot showed a year-over-year sales decline of 98% and the Renegade posted a sales gain of 21%. Grand Cherokee sales fell 4% and Cherokee rose 63%. The Patriot badge is being retired, and the Compass is now Jeep’s single entry in the compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) market.
Analysts at Cox Automotive had projected March sales at 195,000 units, a 2.5% year-over-year increase. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) estimated an average selling price of $36,508 for March, down 1.2% year over year and flat month over month.
FCA continues to implement a strategy of reducing sales to daily rental car companies. March fleet sales accounted for 25% of the month’s sales, or about 53,750 units. March retail sales were the best for the month since 2001 and total sales for the month were the best since 2006.
The company’s Jeep brand sold a total of 98,382 units in March. The Jeep Wrangler sold 27,829 units in the month and Cherokee sales rose to 23,764 units.
Ram pickup sales declined 11% in March to 41,307 units. Last year, Ram sold 46,384 pickups in the month. The February decline came on top of a 16% drop in January sales and a 14% drop in February. The new 2018 Ram pickups began shipping to dealers in March.
Year-over-year sales of the company’s Chrysler brand rose 15%, as sales of the new Pacifica minivan posted March sales of 13,086 units, up 40% for the month. Chrysler 200 sales fell 93% year over year in March to 189. FCA continues to try to sell all dealer inventory on this discontinued model. Sales of the Chrysler 300 rose 25% to 6,223 units.
The company’s Dodge brand sales fell 2% year over year in March. Dodge Caravan sales rose 4% to 16,292 units in the month. The company’s Journey compact SUV saw sales drop by 13% year over year to 10,275 units sold in March.
Alfa Romeo sales rose 364% in March, as sales of the new Stelvio pushed the total to 2,576 for the month. The namesake Fiat brand sold just 1,544 units in March, a 47% year-over-year decline.
FCA’s shares traded up 5%Tuesday morning at $20.95 in a 52-week range of $9.60 to $24.95. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $31.71.