Apparently unfazed by murmurs of a double-dip recession, new-vehicle buyers beat a path toshowrooms in October as the auto maker recorded a 31.9% sales jump, compared with like-2010.
delivered 113,986 light vehicles in October – 32,582 cars and 81,404 light trucks. The segment totals accounted for gains of 66.2% and 21.8%, respectively, according to WardsAuto data.
Excluding performances influenced by Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy and the August 2009 government-backed Cash-for-Clunkers buyer-stimulus program, it was the auto maker’s best year-over-year gain since a 33.2% hike in April 1996.
“In what is turning out to be a strong new-vehicle sales industry, we continued to outperform,” Reid Bigland, Dodge-brand president and CEO and head of U.S. sales, says in a statement.
Chrysler’s sales surged against a backdrop of weak economic growth, as outlined in a Bloomberg News survey released this week ahead of a U.S. Labor Department report on October’s employment picture. The report is expected to show the jobless rate remained at 9.1% for a fourth straight month.
“October also marked our 19th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains,” Bigland adds, noting Chrysler’s retail deliveries soared 40% in October, compared with year-ago.
Critics have questioned the auto maker’s indulgence in fleet business.
Total Jeep Grand Cherokee sales sagged for the second straight month with a dip of 9.5%. But, as happened in September, the flagship SUV suffered from a tough comparison because fleet buyers were unable to place orders until this time last year.
WardsAuto learns retail deliveries of the Grand Cherokee rose 38% in October, compared with like-2010.
The Jeep brand, which recorded a 30.3% sales boost, benefited greatly from one model’s best-ever month. The Compass accounted for 5,179 deliveries, more than five times its year-ago total.
Chrysler’s midsize-car lineup found favor with buyers. Sales of the core-brand 200 totaled 11,205 – more than triple the tally for the fullsize 300 – while Dodge Avenger deliveries more than doubled to 7,136.
Through October, Avenger sales totaled 52,164, surpassing its full-year 2010 mark of 50,923, according to WardsAuto data.
Sales of the 300 and its Dodger Charger platform-mate fell 26.3% and 6.4%, respectively. Both cars were all-new for model-year ’11 and will benefit in ’12 from a new 8-speed automatic transmission, making them the first domestic cars to feature such a gearbox.
Through the first 10 months of this year, Chrysler sales were tracking ahead of like-2010 by 23.3% with 1,117,975 total deliveries.
Bigland is confident the U.S. light-vehicle market will be sufficient for Chrysler to maintain its momentum.
“In 2009, we forecasted 12.8 million units for 2011 and 13.7 million units for 2012,” Bigland tells WardsAuto in an email. “So far, we have seen no reason to change either.”