Boosted by strong demand for Jeep SUVs, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Tuesday U.S. sales topped 200,000 units last month for the first time since March 2007. Overall, deliveries increased 4 percent for the maker of Dodge cars and Ram pickup trucks.
“Our Jeep brand continues to set records with its best monthly sales ever in May,” Reid Bigland, FCA’s head of U.S. sales, said in a statement.
Industrywide sales are expected to drop 1.1 percent to about 1.59 million units, according to industry analysts. There was one fewer selling day last month than in May 2014, which was part of the reason for the decline. Last May, sales grew 11 percent compared with the same month the previous year, suggesting that overall growth in the industry is cooling.
Jeep Cherokee deliveries increased 23 percent to 19,669 units. The second-most-popular midsize crossover in the U.S. last year is still riding high from its 2014 model-year introduction, which replaced the Jeep Liberty. Jeep Patriot and Jeep Wrangler sales were also up by double digits. Jeep Grand Cherokee eked out a 1 percent growth, to 18,209 units. FCA sold nearly 40,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks last month, for an 8 percent increase.
The second-generation Chrysler 200 midsized car released for the 2015 model year carried the Chrysler brand last month with just over 20,000 units. Sales of the Chrysler 300 full-size luxury car, which has been out in its current iteration since 2011, dropped 13 percent to just over 4,000. A major redesign of the Chrysler 300 may not be out until 2019. Chrysler’s third model, the Town & Country minivan, will soon be replaced by a new upscale crossover.
Dodge Challenger deliveries increased nearly 30 percent to 7,438 units. The Challenger received a new 8-speed transmission and slightly more horsepower in the 2015 model year. Overall, the Dodge brand was pulled down 22 percent by slowing consumer demand for the Dodge Dart compact sedan, which was reintroduced in 2013 after a 37-year hiatus, and the Dodge Durango SUV, which has been out in its current iteration since 2010 and is long overdue for a refresh.