Chrysler Group today reported U.S. sales of 117,731 units, a 16% increase compared with January 2012 of 101,149 units. Once again, Chrysler outpaced overall U.S. auto market growth of 14% during a month that was running – surprisingly – at the same sales rates as November and December of last year.
It was the 34th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains for the comeback auto company, whose biggest problem is ailing parent Fiat with its woes in Europe, the reason the minivans will not be refreshed until 2015 as Fiat tries to maintain capital expenditures of about $4 billion annually. It’s also the reason the Dodge Dart does not have an automatic eight-speed transmission or nine-speed now under development, which will appear during a Group powertrain re-alignment during the second half of 2013. The eight-speed in the 2013 Ram, arguably, caught Ford and GM napping with 6-speed offerings. This is a case where more is better for fuel economy, and if the engine control calibration is done well, drivability.
All of the brands – Chrysler, Dodge, Ram Truck, and Fiat – each posted sales increases in January compared with same month a year ago. Particularly strong performances came from the Ram pickup truck (20,474 and North American Truck of the Year), Grand Cherokee (11,065), and the minivans – Chrysler Town & Country (6,525) and Dodge Caravan (4,965). Also noteworthy were the Dodge Avenger (9,628) and the full-size Journey crossover (8,179). The Dodge brand’s 37% increase was the largest sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand in January.
“It’s been a good week for the Chrysler Group. On Wednesday we announced full year 2012 profits of $1.7 billion and followed that today with our January sales, up 16%,” said Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales.
The all-new Dodge Dart continued to increase sales, up 17% (7,154) month-over-month in January, the compact car’s best monthly sales performance since it was launched in June last year. The Dart, which was launched without the now available 1.4 liter turbocharged, MultiAir powertrain – 41 mpg highway, is a compact car in price but with equipment levels and the room of a mid-size family car.
Dodge has competed in the important segment since the unlamented Neon of the last century, if you consider the Neon as competing. Dart could be a bigger sales hit in 2013, and is a must-drive shopping choice against the hot-selling Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus, currently the best selling nameplate in the world. Dart’s Alfa-Romeo chassis with what is and will be a constantly improving powertrain makes it a winner.