The auto maker posts its best sales since 2007, but high inventory still dings some key products.
Ram 1500 Chrysler’s highest-selling vehicle.
Finding its stride with refreshed products and fiery advertising,finishes the year with 1.64 million deliveries, with notable boosts coming from the Ram and brands.
Sales for the auto maker were up 21% from 2011. December also marked the company’s 33rd month of year-over-year sales gains. Volume totaled 151,313 for the month, up 14.5% on a daily rate basis from year-ago’s 137,271.
The auto maker’s best-selling vehicle in 2012 was the Ram 1500, buoyed by a refreshed model that hit dealerships this fall. WardsAuto figures showmoved 29,157 of the pickups in December, bringing the year-end total to 283,056.
Including the low-volume Ram Cargo Van and the discontinued Dakota small pickup, the Ram brand finished the year with 290,621 deliveries. This year marks the arrival of the Ram ProMaster large van, intended to compete with theTransit, NV and ’s Sprinter vans.
The Dodge Dart compact, Chrysler’s only all-new vehicle for 2012, added 6,105 units to Chrysler’s tally. It’s a notable uptick from 4,489 deliveries in November, short of a 5,000-per-month volume the auto maker had been targeting.
Year-end incentives pushed the Dart to its strongest sales month in December, but supply of the compact is at a dizzying 173 days, more than twice the industry’s current 69-day average. The compact is assembled at the auto maker’s Belvidere, IL, assembly plant, which runs on three shifts.
Two other Belvidere-built products, the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot, also have higher-than-average inventory with 122 days’ supply each. The Compass sold 3,131 units in December, down from 4,255 year-ago, while 4,566 Patriots were delivered, up from 4,400 in like-2011.
There were 26 selling days in December 2012, compared with 27 year-ago.
The Jeep brand overall delivered 474,131 units for Chrysler for the year. Its highest-selling model was the Grand Cherokee, with 154,734 units, followed closely by the Wrangler with 141,669. The Grand Cherokee adds a diesel powertrain this quarter and a still-unnamed D-segment SUV arrives later this year.
Chrysler’s highest-selling brand last year was Dodge with 524,989 deliveries. The Caravan minivan was the marque’s top model with 141,468 sales, followed by the midsize Avenger (96,890), fullsize Charger (82,592), Journey cross/utility vehicle (79,563), Challenger muscle car (43,119), Durango SUV (42,589) and Dart compact (25,303).
Thebrand continued on a steady path from month to month, finishing 2012 with 43,772 deliveries of its 500 small car. This year brings two more variations of the 500, the Abarth convertible and an electrified version, and the longer-wheelbase 500L, a B-segment entry.
At least one Alfa Romeo vehicle also will be sold at Fiat dealerships next year, though Chrysler has declined to identify the model or specify launch timing.
The Chrysler brand, helped along with the ongoing “Imported From Detroit” campaign introduced at the Super Bowl last February, delivered 307,967 vehicles in 2012. Chrysler’s tally was led by the 200 midsize sedan with 125,467 units, followed closely by the Town & Country minivan with 111,744 deliveries and the fullsize 300 sedan with 70,747.
A fourth-generation minivan is in the works, although executives have not said whether it will be badged a Dodge or Chrysler. A 4-year business plan unveiled in 2009 calls for a Chrysler-branded midsize CUV for the ’13 model year, but executives have not revealed any further plans.
All vehicles in Chrysler’s stable showed positive increases from 2011 except the Dodge Durango, down 18%, and the Jeep Compass, off 16%.
“Chrysler Group ended 2012 on a strong note with December sales up 10% and our best December sales since 2007,” Reid Bigland, president and CEO-Dodge Brand and head of U.S. sales, says in a statement. “We also recorded 33-consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth and our strongest annual sales in five years.”