Thursday, June 13, 2024

Despite snowstorm, FCA sales rose 7% in January

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Tuesday that sales of its cars and trucks rose 7% in January, bucking expectations that the auto industry is expected to report a slight sales decline following a massive snowstorm that blanketed the East Coast and shut down business in several states for about a week.

Total U.S. vehicle sales are expected to fall about 0.5% for January because of the snowstorm, according to three different industry forecasts, but that small dip has not tempered optimism for the year.

At FCA's, the red-hot Jeep brand and sales of Ram pickups helped the automaker keep its impressive monthly sales streak alive. The automaker has now reported year-over-year monthly sales increases for 70 straight months.

“Mother Nature was no match for our Jeep brand last month as we recorded our best January Jeep sales ever,” Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales, said in a statement. “Overall, FCA US achieved its best January sales in nine years.”

By brand, sales rose 19% for Dodge, 15% for Jeep and 5% for Ram. However, Fiat sales fell 20% and Chrysler sales fell 22% as the company struggled to sell passenger cars.

Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com, said FCA is allowing customers to finance their cars over longer loan terms than competitors.

"It certainly doesn't hurt that the company is offering longer loan terms that drive down monthly payments. The average FCA loan term in January was 72.4 months, which was longer than any other major automaker, and exceeds the industry average of 68.4 months," Caldwell said in an email.

All other automakers are expected to report January sales results throughout the day today.

Typically, January is a slower month for car sales than most other months. Analysts also say the sales impact from snowstorm Jonas will merely delay vehicle purchases for many customers.

"Weather factors aside, this was still a pretty good month for car sales," Caldwell said. "If historic patterns hold, we're off to a healthy start for 2016."

LMC Automotive said its forecast for 17.8 million in industry sales for the year remains unchanged. That would top results from last year when automakers sold more than 17.47 million vehicles -- the most in U.S. history.

“We expect 2016 to be another record year, but all eyes will be tracking the expected slower growth rate as the year progresses,” Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, said in a recent report. “All brands will not be able to grow as they have over the past few years, creating a higher level of competitive intensity and pressure on each brand.”

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