Chrysler US sales for a strange 2020

FCA US sales dropped by 17% in 2020, compared with 2019. Every brand but Alfa Romeo fell, with Fiat dropping to less than half of their already poor sales.

Ram made it through with the least damage, falling by 11%; by comparison, GM truck sales rose, and Toyota trucks fell by around 3%. The ProMaster fell by 10% and the City by 19%; the main driver of sales, Ram pickups and traditional chassis cabs, dropped by 11% to 563,676 (still enough to beat Tesla by a good margin).

Chrysler fell by 13%; the Pacifica’s drop was cushioned by the new Voyager (included in Pacifica figures) and the discontinuation of the Caravan. Caravan sales fell from 122,648 to 38,767; Pacifica/Voyager sales fell from 97,705 to 93,802, a bad sign. To be fair, Toyota also had a bad minivan year; the Sienna dropped by 42%, hitting just 42,885 sales. That means that while the Sienna beat the Caravan, it was trounced by the Pacifiger combovan.

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Within Jeep, the Gladiator provided some green ink, rising from 40,047 2019 sales to 77,542 in 2020, its first full year. Some may have come from Wrangler buyers, the latter falling by 12%, or around 27,000 sales. The hardest hit Jeeps were the Cherokee and Compass, down 29% and 25%; but each still racking on over 100,000 sales. The slowest selling Jeep was the Renegade, imported from Italy, with 62,847 sales.

Alfa Romeo managed a sales gain of 2%, but only sold 18,586 cars, so that their three-car lineup managed to be less popular, combined, than either the Chevrolet Bolt or the Chevrolet Corvette (and wasn’t even in the running to beat the Dodge Caravan or Journey in their final, partial-sales years). For a somewhat more accurate Alfa Romeo comparison, the Lexus RX dropped by 9% to 14,514 sales.

Overall, the story could have been worse; the worst hits were to discontinued vehicles (Caravan, 500, Journey) and Fiats. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio actually gained by 9%, though that only meant hitting 10,284 sales. What’s more, FCA dropped incentives, which may have meant fewer sales but relatively stronger profits; and, more to the point, the largest shortfall was in fleet sales. Rental car companies essentially stopped buying, which impacted other companies, including Hyundai and GM. Coming up in 2021 will be the Ram TRX, Wrangler 4xe, Rubicon 392, refreshed Durango and Pacifica, and the new three-row Jeep with a completely new Grand Cherokee near the end of 2021.

By way of comparison, for all of 2020, GM lost 12% in sales, dropping from 2.9 million to 2.5 million. Buick fell by 21%, Cadillac by 17%, Chevrolet by 11%, and GMC by 9%. GMC Sierra sales actually rose by 9% and Silverado sales rose by 3%, with a hefty 50% gain in the medium-duty trucks (which are actually heavier-duty than “heavy duty” trucks). The Bolt EV only managed 20,754 sales, and was out-sold by the Corvette; Camaro sales, though, dropped by 38%, to 29,775. Retail sales only fell by 6%; fleet sales appeared to be down across the industry.

Over at Toyota, Tacoma and Tundra sales were pretty steady, but overall sales fell by 12%. The main problems for Toyota were large hits to its big-selling Camry (down 13%) and Corolla (down 22%) despite greater investments in the cars themselves; the hot-selling RAV4 was down by just 4%, and the Sienna minivan plummeted by 42%. Toyota seems to have given up on the Sienna as a direct competitor to Pacifica/Voyager, only selling a premium hybrid version in the future. (Full Toyota sales charts and commentary.)

For the fourth quarter, FCA’s incentives were right between GM and Ford, at $4,707 per car; Ford paid out $4,595 and GM, $5,046. The only Japanese automaker to come into this range was Nissan, whose desperate incentives hit $4,775, which was actually higher than FCA’s. All the Germans had high incentives, led by BMW with $5,633 per car; Daimler ran to $4,767 and Volkswagen hit $4,422 (VW includes Porsche and Audi). Oddly, Kia paid out $700 more per car than sibling Hyundai, whose incentives were roughly the same as those of Honda and Toyota—and all three were below $3,000 per car.  Hyundai cut incentives in the fourth quarter, but still gained in retail sales on the strength of new crossovers.

It’s worth noting that while industry-wide fourth-quarter incentives were roughly the same as last year’s, FCA trimmed theirs by 7%, Ford cut theirs by 3%, and GM cut theirs by 6%; while Honda increased incentives by 17%, Subaru increased by 16%, Nissan by 12%, and VW by 10%. Subaru’s incentives remain the lowest in the industry by over one thousand dollars; Honda and Hyundai battled for second place in the $2,600-$2,700 zone.

2020 FCA US total sales

David Zatz started what was to become the world’s biggest, most comprehensive Mopar site in 1994 as he pursued a career in organizational research and change. After a chemo-induced break, during which he wrote car books covering Vipers, minivans, and Jeeps, he returned with some friends to create StellPower.com, which is intended to end up as an enduring partnership. Contact him at (973) 925-6058 or check out the new junkyard/slant six book he edited.

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