In a press release, Chrysler said "the 200's celebrity and significant improvements translate into sales."
Overall, Chrysler's sales rose 31 percent over March last year to 121,730 units. That was the best sales month since May 2008 and the 12th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases, the automaker said.
Among the highlights for March was Fiat's return to the U.S. market. Fiat sold exactly 500 Fiat 500 small cars in March, a number that Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel said was a coincidence.
The 31 percent gain in Chrysler's overall U.S. sales was also the biggest of any major automaker except the Hyundai-Kia Group, where sales advanced 37 percent. But it's still short of the roughly 45 percent sales increase Chrysler Group is shooting for this year.
That's the goal Chrysler gave dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association make meeting in San Francisco in February. For the first three months of 2011, Chrysler sales have increased 23 percent.
David Kelleher, owner of David Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep in Glen Mills, Pa., and a member of the Chrysler National Dealer Council, said Chrysler executives are not backing off the ambitious goal it laid out for dealers at NADA.
"They seem resolute in their numbers, so there's a little catch-up," said Kelleher, who acknowledged it could be a challenge to hit the 45 percent increase.
Chrysler is hoping its new model offensive will boost sales now that dealers have sufficient stocks of 2011 models. Chrysler launched 16 new or revamped models in 2011, including the 200 sedan.
Dealers are still short of a few models, including the 2011 Chrysler 300 sedan, which is just now arriving in dealerships.
"I think they expected to have more 300s on the ground by now," Kelleher said. Dealers report they're now receiving more 300s. When they get the cars, the company will launch its 300 TV ads.
Other new models gaining some momentum include the Dodge Durango SUV, which wasn't available a year ago. Dodge sold 4,392 Durangos in March, up 61 percent from February.
The Ram full-sized pickup continued to be Chrysler Group's top seller with 21,898 units sold in March, up 23 percent from a year ago.
The Dodge brand remained the biggest seller with 44,102, up 49 percent from last year. The Chrysler brand sold 20,463, up 3 percent from last March; Jeep sold 33,458, up 36 percent; and Ram, 23,510, up 24 percent.