SAN FRANCISCO -- Chrysler Group has set an ambitious sales target for its dealers in 2011.
The automaker seeks more than 1.57 million sales this year, up about 45 percent from the 1.1 million units sold in 2010, Chrysler told dealers at the make meeting.
Chrysler also told dealers it will increase ad spending 68 percent over 2010, starting with the two-minute Super Bowl commercial for the Chrysler 200 featuring rapper Eminem. The company declined to say how much it is spending.
"They asked dealers to help them meet those goals," said Don Lee, president of Lee Auto Malls, a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep store in Westbrook, Maine. Lee said the target could be challenging.
"It's about 15 percent higher than my annual objectives. It's going to be tough, but I believe that they believe it's going to be done. They've got some great products," said Lee, whose sales rose 35 percent in 2010.
Lee was referring to 16 new or revamped products Chrysler has for 2011. Fred Diaz, Chrysler's lead sales executive, said the new products are arriving in dealerships in volumes and account for 38 percent of dealer inventory.
He said his goal is to have some units of all 16 models in dealerships by the end of the first quarter.
Diaz told dealers they need to order cars or they won't be able to cash in on the spring sales rush.
Dave Kelleher, owner of David Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep in Glen Mills, Pa., said: "We've got to order cars now. If you don't have the cars for the spring market, it's going to be too late for you to make your move."
Chrysler sales have been growing, but not at the level the company seeks in 2011. Chrysler Group sales rose 17 percent in 2010 over the bankruptcy year of 2009. This January, its sales jumped 23 percent.
Jesse Toprak, vice president of Truecar.com, said Chrysler could hit its targets if a number of factors go right: "1.5 million is reachable if the momentum of Jeep continues."
Chrysler also needs its mid-sized sedans -- the new Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger -- to post sales increases, and it needs a continued recovery in the construction industry, which benefits the Ram brand, Toprak said.