Winter weather sent U.S. consumers flocking to Jeep dealerships last month. FCA US LLC, formerly known as Chrysler Group, said Tuesday that its 4X4 brand shattered sales records for the month, helping to boost company-wide U.S. sales by 6 percent in February compared to the same month last year.
“Even with tougher year-over-year sales comparisons in 2015, our vehicle lineup continues to produce record sales results,” Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said in a statement announcing the monthly figures.
U.S. new-auto sales are a key measure of consumer sentiment, and February data are expected to show a continued high appetite for new vehicles. SUV sales tend to increase during the winter, when consumers are more likely to buy vehicles that are better suited to icy road conditions. Low gas prices also tend to steer consumers away from more fuel-efficient models, even if they'll wind up paying more for gasoline over the life of the vehicles.
Jeep sales jumped 21 percent, with the Jeep Patriot compact crossover SUV hitting an all-time monthly record of 10,280 deliveries. Four of the five Jeep brands had their best February sales on record.
FCA’s Chrysler brand saw a 13 percent sales jump thanks to the recently redesigned Chrysler 200 sedan. Meanwhile, Dodge saw a 15 percent drop in sales, led by a steep decline in demand for the Caravan and Durango. The Caravan will soon be phased out as FCA shifts its minivan focus toward an all-new Chrysler Town & Country, due out in the next year or two. The Durango SUV is also being phased out as FCA shifts its SUV efforts into Jeep, which the company is taking global.
Ram truck sales increased 12 percent on increased deliveries of the Ram pickup truck, which makes up 21 percent of all FCA sales in the U.S. Buyers purchased 6 percent of the third-most popular vehicles in the U.S., to 33,991 units.
Meanwhile, Fiat brand sales dropped 5 percent to a meager 3,289 units. The company recently reintroduced the Alfa Romeo brand to the U.S. It sold 47 Alfa 4C sports cars last month for a total of 144 units so far this year.
Watch a recent review of the 2015 Jeep Patriot from Ride Time:
FCA US RECALLS SINCE THE START OF 2015
These safety recalls affect mostly U.S.-based vehicles. A small number of them are outside of North America. As with most automakers, air bag recalls dominate because any problems with them are inherently safety related.
* Nearly 26,000 Chrysler 200 sedans from the 2015 model year, to fix a transmission problem. Affected vehicles might not shift into “park” position, causing them to roll away unexpectedly.
* More than 753,000 Dodge Viper sports cars (2003-2004 model years) and Jeep Grand Cherokee (2002-2004) and Jeep Liberty (2002-2003) SUVs, for possible inadvertent deployment of air bags and/or seat belt pretensioners.
* Nearly 170,000 Jeep Cherokee SUVs from the 2014 and 2015 model years, for unintended side curtain and seat air bag deployment.
* Over 2,200 Dodge Challenger SRT coupes and Dodge Charger SRT sedans from the 2015 model year, to fix possible fuel leaks.