Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Friday its U.S. sales increased 6 percent in both April and the first four months of the year compared to the same periods last year as American buyers flocked to the automaker’s Jeep Cherokees and Jeep Wranglers but steered away from its Dodge brand. The London-based maker of Jeeps and Ram pickups delivered 189,027 vehicles in the U.S. in April and 694,881 have been delivered since the start of the year.
Reid Bigland, the head of FCA’s U.S. sales, said in a statement that Jeep had its best month ever, helped by the new Jeep Renegade mini SUV, which had its first full month of sales in April.
Dodge brand sales were down 16 percent last month, to 44,906 units, but deliveries of the Dodge Challenger muscle car jumped 32 percent to 6,771 (a monthly record) and are up 41 percent to 22,728 since the start of the year.
Demand for the 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan propelled the Chrysler brand while sales of the Town & Country minivan and the 300 full-sized luxury sedan declined. To re-invigorate sales of the popular family hauler, FCA is working on a completely new 2017 Town & Country minivan due out in the second half of next year. The second-generation Chrysler 300 has been out since 2011 and sales have dragged as consumers opt for more recently redesigned models.
The latest version of the Jeep Cherokee was introduced for the 2014 model year, so sales have been propelled by its freshness. Low oil prices have sent Americans toward larger vehicles like the Jeeps. The Jeep Wrangler was tweaked for the 2014 model year and six new body colors were added.