Fiat/Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne has had some tough times lately trying to launch production in China while hoping to revive a faltering deal in Russia. Then there’s the challenge of a crumbling European car market that has hammered the Italian side of the trans-Atlantic automaker – so it’s good to be getting a lift from one corner of the globe.
Chrysler is now the sales leader in Canada, nudging its way in the relatively small market past traditional industry leader General Motors, as well as rival Ford Motor Co. and Japanese giant Toyota. With its strong network of rural dealers, Chrysler’s unexpected dominance “North of the Border” serves to provide some credibility to Marchionne’s ongong efforts to build Chrysler/Fiat into a global power house.
(It also comes as a point of personal celebration for the Fiat/Chrysler CEO who grew up in Canada.)
Up until now, Marchionne’s efforts, while scoring some impressive results in the U.S., have still been greeted by a large measure of skepticism by analysts who don’t believe the American-Italian company can compete long-term.
Nonetheless, Chrysler Canada has reported its 40th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth, representing the longest sales streak in the company’s history and the longest current streak in the industry. March 2013 sales were 24,173 compared with 22,703 vehicles sold in March, 2012, which represents a 6% increase.
The results maintain Chrysler Canada’s position as the number one seller of vehicles in the country for the first three months of 2013, the maker noted.
”We experienced our best Ram truck sales in our history this month, helping Chrysler remain the number one seller of vehicles in Canada,” said Dave Buckingham, Chief Operating Officer, Chrysler Canada. ”Dodge Dart sales really gave us a boost this month as well, more than doubling our February sales.”
Buckingham said the introduction of the all-new Light-Duty and Heavy-Duty Ram trucks have given Chrysler’s position in Canada a big lift. Garnering awards including North American Truck/Utility of the Year, Motor Trend Truck of the Year and Truck of Texas, Ram trucks saw their best sales month ever in March with 7,476 units sold – compared with 6,526 sold in the same month of 2012.
The Canadian results were all the more impressive because the popular Jeep brand is going through a major transition that has closed a key assembly plant in Toledo since Christmas. The Toledo North plant isn’t scheduled to reopen until May 23 – which led to a sharp drop in overall Jeep sales for March. In addition, the Jefferson North plant in Detroit, which builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee, is in the middle of a slow “ramp-up” of production for the updated 2014 Grand Cherokee.
Chrysler/Fiat recently signed a deal with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co, to expand cooperation to build vehicles, particularly Jeeps and Fiats, in China.
“The Jeeps to be produced in China will be a particular model only for the Chinese market,” Chrysler suggested, observers suggesting that tooling for the old Jeep Liberty once used in Toledo could be on its way to China.
A deal to build Jeeps in Russia, however, has been hamstrung in talks with Russian authorities.
Tags: Jeep Russia, Sergio Marchionne, auto news, canadian auto industry, car news, chrysler canada, chrysler canada #1, chrysler canada sales, chrysler news, europe car sales, jeep cherokee, jeep china, jeep production, jeep toledo, joe szczesny, thedetroitbureau