Pickup, Jeep sales push Chrysler up 13%; monthly streak reaches 48

Sales of the new Jeep Cherokee mid-sized SUV were up 17 percent to 13,796 compared with sales in February, its second-best monthly sales performance since arriving in dealerships in October. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

DETROIT -- Stellar pickup and Jeep sales pushed Chrysler Group sales up 13 percent in March, and its string of year-over-year monthly gains reached 48 consecutive months.

The company reported sales of 193,915 last month, its best March since 2007. Both the Jeep and Fiat brands had their highest U.S. sales of any month, and several vehicles set March or all-time monthly records.

Ram pickup sales, aided by a Truck Month promotion in March, shot up 26 percent to 42,532, the best March in a decade. Light-duty sales rose 24 percent, and heavy-duty sales climbed 28 percent.

Ram brand sales rose 29 percent with help from two commercial vans.

Sales of all five vehicles in the Jeep lineup were up, pushing the brand’s sales up 47 percent to a record 57,983. The Compass and Patriot had their best sales month ever, and the Wrangler set a March record.

Sales of the Fiat brand were up 24 percent. A 13-percent decline in sales of the Fiat 500 minicar was offset by higher sales of the larger 500L.

Dodge brand sales rose 1 percent, thanks to the Journey’s best sales month ever and strong sales of the Grand Caravan, Durango and Charger. Sales of the Dart and Challenger fell.

Chrysler brand sales plummeted 23 percent in March, almost all because of a 55 percent decline of the outgoing 2014 200 sedan. The redesigned 2015 Chrysler 200 is to arrive in showrooms in the second quarter.

Chrysler said it ended the month with a 71-day supply of unsold vehicles. A Chrysler spokesman said fleet sales declined slightly from the same month a year ago.

The company is expected to report its fleet sales for the quarter when it reports its first-quarter earnings in about a month.

You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at lvellequette@crain.com -- Follow Larry P. on Twitter: @LarryVellequett

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