DETROIT -- Surging sales of Chrysler Group's mid-sized sedans, minivans and SUVs led the automaker to a 20 percent sales increase in April, its 25th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
Chrysler reported U.S. sales of 141,165 units, the group's best April since 2008. It ended the month with a 59-day supply of vehicles on hand. Sixty days is considered ideal.
The Chrysler 200 sedan was the automaker's second-biggest seller last month at 13,343 units, up 61 percent from April 2011. Sales of its linemate, the Dodge Avenger, rose 47 percent to 11,147 units. April marked the highest sales for Chrysler's mid-sized sedans since the automaker sold 25,193 Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus sedans in June 2004.
Last month, both the Avenger and 200 carried $3,000 cash rebates or 0 percent financing for up to 72 months, aiding the sales growth, dealers said.
The Dodge Avenger "is a great car to take to the at-large customer, who's looking for a car in a certain payment range," said David Kelleher, owner of David Dodge in suburban Philadelphia and chairman of the Chrysler National Dealer Council. "The 200 is not far behind it either."
Sales of the automaker's two minivans also rose in April, with the Chrysler Town & Country up 22 percent to 10,773 units and the Dodge Grand Caravan up 27 percent to 11,183 units.
Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said Monday at an event in Detroit that the automaker's minivans will receive a new platform by 2014 as originally planned.
The Ram pickup remained the automaker's top seller at 21,126 units, up 19 percent from the same month a year ago. At the New York auto show last month, Chrysler unveiled a re-engineered Ram, which is scheduled to appear in dealerships in the fall.
Chrysler sold 3,849 units of the Fiat 500 in April, the highest monthly sales for the subcompact since it was launched in March 2011. Notably, one of the brand's 143 dealers, Fiat of Austin in the Texas state capital, became the first Fiat dealer in the United States to sell more than 100 units in a single month, posting 107 sales. The achievement earned the dealership's general manager, Lisa Copeland, a personal meet-and-greet with Marchionne.
At Jeep, sales of the Wrangler topped those of the Grand Cherokee. Wrangler sales were up 35 percent to 12,184 units, while Grand Cherokee sales climbed 21 percent to 11,834 units.
Chrysler officials have been working to gain additional production capacity for both vehicles and announced yesterday that the Grand Cherokee plant, Jefferson North Assembly in Detroit, will skip its traditional summer shutdown this year.
Marchionne also said Monday that Jefferson North will hire a third shift of workers as early as November 2012, instead of in early 2013 as was announced in January, to meet strong demand.