by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, buoyed by strong demand for its trucks, as well as a record quarter for Jeep Wrangler, Wednesday reported slightly higher sales figures over the past three months against the same time last year.
For the quarter, FCA finished ahead by 537 vehicles over last year—essentially flat—but that beat analyst estimates that figured the automaker would drop two percent overall. It also beat out Ford, which fell 4.9 percent. GM, however, topped the big-3 automakers with a 6.3 percent increase for the third quarter.
Ram trucks led the way for FCA throughout the quarter, posting a 14 percent gain over last year, while Jeep’s newest truck, the Gladiator, sold an impressive 16,132 vehicles. As a brand, Ram was the only one in FCA’s stable to finish up for the quarter.
“Lower interest rates, a stable economy and consumer enthusiasm bolster our belief that new vehicle sales in the U.S. are heading for a strong finish,” said FCA Head of U.S. Sales Reid Bigland. “For us, vehicles like the new Gladiator, our Ram pickups and Dodge muscle cars are pulling customers into showrooms. Our customers are also choosing to purchase higher trim levels or extra features, which are increasing our transaction prices.”
Jeep Wrangler, which had struggled for most of this year following a strong start, rebounded well over the past three months. The feature vehicle in Jeep’s portfolio finished the quarter at 59,035 units sold, a three percent jump over last year. Also posting a strong quarter was Grand Caravan, which sold 61,768 vehicles to lead the brand. That number put the profitable Grand Cherokee up eight percent over 2018 for the past three months. Additionally, Jeep has now sold 23,384 Gladiator trucks this year in the U.S., and should threaten 50,000 sold by year’s end.
However, despite those strong performances from Wrangler and Grand Cheroke, the Jeep brand fell two percent for the quarter mainly due to sluggish performances from Compass (down 22 percent), Cherokee (off 21 percent) and Renegade (down 16 percent).
FCA listed its overall sales at 565,034 vehicles for the three-month period covering July, August and September. Retail sales accounted for 438,649 vehicles while fleet accounted for 22 percent of total sales. Fleet sales, on a year-to-date basis, accounted for 25 percent of overall sales.
Overall, Ram is still holding steady for FCA in 2019 and is up 23 percent for the year, while Jeep sits down six percent. Grand Cherokee (185,040) and Wrangler (176,020) remain two of the top three selling vehicles in FCA’s arsenal.
Following the third quarter, Jeep now sits at 701,755 vehicles moved this year, but remains a long shot to beat the record 973,227 Jeeps sold in 2018.
FCA announced it was moving to quarterly sales reporting earlier this year to match Ford and GM, and this was the first quarterly report for the automaker.