A re-energized Wrangler, redesigned Compass and a little subcompact SUV named Renegade.
Those were the players in February that nearly brought down the curtain on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ long-standing monthly sales losing streak.
Despite a record-setting performance from that trio of vehicles, FCA's streak will linger on for yet another month, 17-straight now, after the automaker posted an overall 1 percent February decline.
On a positive note, fleet sales continued to drop another 3 percent for the month as FCA kept its collective foot on the reduction pedal. This is an ongoing strategy by the automaker to drive up its overall brand value, and fleet sales now have dropped to about 26 percent of FCA's overall sales.
But Jeep seemed to be the real story for the month, though, as the brand surged to its best February ever, up 12 percent on the strength of Wrangler, Compass and Renegade.
Although FCA does not break down Wrangler sales into JK or JL categories, the vehicle nameplate sold 15,936 units which amounts to a 17 percent boost year-over-year. With Wrangler sales normally fluctuating either a few percentage points up or down the past several months, this double-digit gain no doubt was influenced by enthusiasm for the new JL Wrangler.
Compass, which hit the market last August in its current incarnation, actually moved more vehicles in February than Wrangler as it posted sales of 16,026. Since its latest release, Compass has been one of FCA’s top sellers and is up a startling 344 percent against this point last year.
And then there is Renegade. While the smallest in Jeep’s SUV-heavy lineup, it also had its best February ever and totaled 8,249 vehicles sold for a 4 percent gain. But unlike Wrangler or Compass, that figure wasn’t enough to overcome a poor January and it now sits 14 percent down year-to-date.
However, the news was not all rosy for Jeep. Grand Cherokee, long a positive sales force for FCA, has fallen on some rough times so far this year. FCA’s most profitable model slipped 8 percent in February and now stands down a troubling 7 percent in 2018.
Cherokee, meanwhile, dropped 10 percent in February – wiping out January gains to now sit at 3 percent up for the year.
Some of that Cherokee decline may be traced to potential owners waiting for its redesign, just as those interested in Wrangler did back at the end of 2017, while Compass' strong performance may be leeching into what otherwise would have been Grand Cherokee sales.
Even with that slightly bad news though, Jeep still dominated for the month. Unfortunately for FCA, the rest of its relevant brands failed to help out.
Ram (14 percent), Chrysler (3 percent) and Dodge (8 percent) all slumped again for the automaker, while Fiat (down 42 percent) continued its monthly free fall.
For Ram, especially, it was tough sledding as pickup demand flopped to its worst level since late last summer. Overall, Ram trucks sold 33,299 units (off 15 percent) and continued to lead the entire FCA lineup in sales. But the high-profit truck is now down 14 percent in 2018 and its performance has to worry FCA executives.
Besides the Ram truck, Jeep holds three of the top five spots in total sales from February with the Grand Cherokee sitting second (17,468), Compass fourth (16,026) and Wrangler fifth (15,936).