By: Matt Konkle
Despite a monster push from the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Patriot, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Monday reported an overall sales decrease of 1 percent compared to September 2015 as its white-hot Jeep division was – for once - unable to lift the automaker.
The Jeep brand, which has been posting record sales month after month for FCA, actually slipped 3% for September as all models posted double-digit declines except for the Patriot, which jumped 33%, and Grand Cherokee, which increased 18%.
The good news for FCA, though, remains the long-term strength of Jeep as the brand is still up 12% through the first nine months of 2016. In addition, despite the slight September decline, FCA did beat sales expectations and was in line with GMC (down .6%) while finishing way ahead of Ford (down 8.1%).
Overall, most industry experts agree US auto sales continue to display signs of strength, especially in the truck and SUV categories, even though the industry as a whole is cooling somewhat from its strong 2015 and early 2016 run.
“The sky is not falling. And this month has made it really clear that despite the fact that we didn’t meet last September, we’re pretty darn close and it was a very good month,” Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for Autotrader, said during a conference call. “These are quality sales, a lot of retail sales, less fleet sales, and not incentives.”
By brand, FCA's sales rose 27% for Ram but fell 3% for Jeep, 6% for Dodge, 27% for Chrysler, 27% for Alfa Romeo and 30% for Fiat.
Jeep Wrangler (down 18%) and Cherokee (down 12%) both displayed an unexpected slowdown for September which is certainly worrisome for FCA, but both remain two of FCA’s top three selling vehicles just behind Dodge Ram.
"While sales have fallen slightly, they are at near-record levels and transaction prices are at all-time highs," Deirdre Borrego, senior vice president at J.D. Power said in a report last week.