Chrysler Group's head of U.S. sales said the automaker and its dealers have "plenty of room to grow."
Reid Bigland, also CEO of Dodge brand, cited Chrysler's 11.1 percent market share in 2011 as a sign of its potential. Chrysler's market share was even lower on a retail-sales basis, excluding sales to fleets.
"Implicit in 10 percent retail share is that nine out of 10 customers are saying, 'no thanks' to our products, which I think is a sure sign that we still have considerable growth opportunities ahead of us," he said.
In 2012, the automaker plans to ship 2.4 million vehicles, up from 2.01 million in 2011, Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said. Of the additional units, 200,000 are expected to come from U.S. retail sales, Marchionne said this month.
Bigland will lead Sunday's make meetings with Chrysler Group dealers. He said his message to dealers will be simple for the coming year: "We can't rest on our laurels. We can't become complacent. We need to stay sharp."
He said Chrysler Group will continue to meet its obligations to its dealers, and work with them to drive their businesses.
"The factory has an obligation to deliver to the dealers competitive products and competitive programs, and really then, the rest is up to the dealers," Bigland said.
This month, Marchionne said Chrysler must lower the percentage of its sales that go to fleets. Those sales made up about 28 percent of the automaker's U.S. sales in the fourth quarter, but Marchionne said Chrysler would try to drive that down to just over 20 percent. He didn't say by when.
Historically, hefty fleet sales were a sign that an automaker was overproducing, and hurt its vehicles' residual values. But Bigland said fleet sales shouldn't be viewed with the same derision as in the past.
"The deals that we are doing, fleet and retail, are much better deals than we were doing in the past," Bigland said. "We just need to make sure that any deal is structured in a manner that doesn't do long-term damage to our residual values and our long-term goals."
Bigland said Chrysler Group will continue to add Fiat dealers in 2012. The automaker has about 130 such dealers now, and he said he expected to be "closer to 200" by year end, though he was reluctant to set a hard-and-fast goal.