Chrysler Fiat announced this week that its U.S. auto sales in May jumped 17% over the same time last year, beating industry projections by 3%.
In fact, with more than 849,000 cars sold so far this year, the much-maligned automaker is having its best year in nearly a decade.
Much of this year’s sales turnaround can be attributed to the company’s Jeep and Ram Truck divisions, whose sales have increased by 49% and 24% respectively.
But can this sales surge last?
Jeep’s stellar performance can be traced to the introduction of new products like the Jeep Cherokee and revitalized existing models like the Jeep Wrangler. While, Jeep, as a brand, is likely to grow in the near future, don’t expect it to maintain this bullish pace. Sales figures for the controversially styled Cherokee are likely to fall after the initial pool of early adopters and fanboys run dry.
The Cherokee could even meet the same fate as the last year’s hot-selling Dodge Dart which, like the Cherokee, sold well initially based on early adopter hype, but has since fallen on hard times. The Dart, which the company had hoped would become a sales leader, has seen its sales spiral downward 20% just two years after its launch.
Even more troubling is the all new Dart’s inability to outsell its older and now discontinued stablemate, the Dodge Avenger.
The Dart wasn’t the only Chrysler product to struggle this year. In fact, Jeep and Ram’s success puts into sharp focus the slumping sales of Chrysler Group’s entire passenger car line. The company’s Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat brands have seen car sales fall 27% in May and 23% for the year.
However, there may be glimmer of hope for Chrysler’s passenger car business as their is strong buzz surrounding the company’s 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan, which is set to hit showrooms en masse next month.
While strong demand for the new 200 may be able to cushion some drop in Jeep or Ram sales, it will be difficult for Chrysler Fiat to sustain this level of sales growth consistently. But the company may just surprise us all and continue its hot streak.
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