by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have, well, the facts of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ 2019 sales life.
Which is to say a record fourth-quarter for Wrangler, a further emergence of Gladiator as a player in the truck market, a solid campaign for Grand Cherokee and a massive record year for Ram truck.
And then not much else to celebrate as FCA Friday announced its 2019 sales dropped one percent, essentially flat, while fourth quarter sales were off two percent.
“Our dealers did an outstanding job in 2019, not only with meeting consumer demand, but also handling the introduction of the redesigned Ram Heavy Duty and new Jeep Gladiator,” said FCA’s head of U.S. Sales Reid Bigland. “We have read the expectations that sales may slow a bit in 2020. However, we believe there is still plenty of demand in the market and we are ready for a new year.”
Overall, considering FCA was up against huge 2018 sales numbers, its performance this year could still be considered successful. The automaker’s 2018 sales were its largest in 17 years.
The Jeep brand itself, which has been up and down all year for FCA, finished the fourth quarter down two percent which helped contribute to a five percent decline for the year.
Tempering that Jeep sales disappointment for FCA is an overall solid introduction for the Gladiator truck, which sold nearly 17,000 units during the fourth quarter and a tick over 40,000 for its abbreviated year. Gladiator was introduced last November during the Los Angeles Auto Show, but did not begin reaching dealerships in force until May.
Also impressive for FCA in the fourth quarter was record-setting sales of its Wrangler line. The vehicle soared to one of its best performances this year thanks to its six percent growth during the quarter. However, while that late sales boost did help, Wrangler still slipped five percent against 2018. In all, Wrangler finished the year with 228,000 vehicles sold for 2019.
Another bright spot for FCA in 2019 was the sales performance of Grand Cherokee. One of FCAs most profitable vehicles, it was the only Jeep that outperformed its 2018 numbers—growing eight percent on sales of 243,000 vehicles.
Those positives did not extend to Cherokee, Renegade or Compass though as all three suffered a disappointing 2019 campaign. Compass, despite a vehicle redesign late in 2018, fell 16 percent for the year, while Cherokee dropped 20 percent and Renegade 21 percent.
In all, Jeep finished 2019 with 923,000 vehicles which, once again, led the way for FCA. Additionally, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler were two of the company's top-three selling vehicles.
A massive year for the newly designed Ram truck, up 18 percent, helped to boost that brand and make it FCA’s only segment to post a positive 2019. In all, Ram was up 18 percent for the year and ended as the automaker's top-selling vehicle with 634,000 units moved.
Fiat, which has stopped production of its 500 model in the U.S., led the way for FCA down the decline path as the lineup fell 41 percent. Chrysler (off 23 percent), Alfa Romeo (down 23 percent) and Dodge (8 percent decline) also failed to produce results for FCA in 2019.
FCA’s overall sales were 2.2 million for the year and nearly 546,000 in the fourth quarter.