By: Matt Konkle
Seven months ago, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne stood in front of the automotive world to announce FCAs intent to shift away from the car business in North America and focus efforts entirely on truck and SUV production.
While its production shift efforts are ongoing, another strong month from FCAs truck divisions offset poor performance from Chrysler and Fiat car brands, buoying the automaker to a 3 percent August sales gain. FCA was the only big-three automaker to land in positive territory for the month.
Sales at Ford dropped 8.4 percent, while General Motors fell 5.2 percent. In fact, most major automakers were in negative territory during August, with Toyota (5 percent), Nissan (6), Honda (3.8), and Volkswagen (9) all down.
“Following 66 consecutive months of retail sales growth that began in September 2010, we’ve seen four declines in the past six months, and this much of a pullback in August will be a disappointment for the industry,” John Humphrey, senior vice president at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “Softening retail sales amid low interest rates, relatively cheap gas and automakers pushing more aggressive incentives may be an indicator that further growth in this cycle will be difficult.”
Jeep brand sales continued to defy the industry and were up 12 percent overall in August, led by the Cherokee which turned in a whopping 41 percent increase. The Grand Cherokee, Patriot, Compass and Renegade all generated positive numbers as well. Only Wrangler failed to post a gain during August – falling 16 percent. The Wrangler decrease marked the second straight month the vehicle did not hit positive numbers. However, the Wrangler is still a top overall seller for FCA this year and stands third in 2016 sales for FCAs entire fleet.
August was the second month for FCAs new sales reporting process. The company revised its method of reporting sales in July following a federal investigation and, although FCA restated sales for every month since January 2011, it has not admitted to any intentional wrongdoing.
FCA reported an overall U.S. sales total of 196,756 units for the month.