AUBURN HILLS, MI – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles wants to grow its sales in the NAFTA region, which includes the U.S., Canada and Mexico, by 48% to 3.1 million units by 2018.

FCA sold 2.1 million units in NAFTA in 2013, with the Dodge brand the biggest contributor, selling 736,000 vehicles.

FCA forecasts Dodge will be the only brand losing sales by 2018, predicting a 10% drop to 660,000 units annually, as it remakes Dodge into more of a niche marque.

The biggest brand growth in NAFTA is seen coming from Chrysler, with a projected 132% sales increase to 770,000 units.

Fiat will have the second-highest growth, 67%, on modest volume of 100,000 units by 2018.

If FCA predictions hold, Jeep will overtake Dodge as the top-selling brand, with 800,000 units by 2018, up from 557,000 in 2013, a 44% increase.

Ram is seen growing NAFTA volume 34%, to 620,000 units, and Alfa Romeo should contribute 150,000 units in 2018, compared with zero last year.

Looking back, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne beams at the automaker outdoing its prior 5-year NAFTA sales goals.

In 2009, Chrysler Group had called for 75% growth, to 2.1 million, in 2013, but ended up boosting sales 82% to 2.148 million units.

Marchionne also is proud of FCA’s hiring stats, with the automaker now employing 71,000 people, up from 46,000 in 2009.

“We’ve been able to bring back a lot of people into the car business,” he tells media during an extensive business review here today.

FCA forecasts regional growth will come from a higher volume of imports than ever before, with 360,000 NAFTA imports planned by 2018, up from 32,000 in 2013.

However, FCA also will export more from North America, some 380,000 units, up from 253,000 last year.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com