NEW ORLEANS -- Chrysler Group dealers were told to expect higher profits in 2014 as the automaker rolls out new vehicles to replace older models that had hefty incentives.
During an hourlong make meeting, Chrysler executives told dealers that two new vehicles are due near year end, a subcompact Jeep and the Ram ProMaster City small commercial van.
Dealers said the executives told them the redesigned Chrysler 200 sedan is due in the first half of the year and the freshened Dodge Challenger is to arrive late this year. The dealers said they should begin receiving long-promised diesel-powered Ram 1500 pickups next month. In 2013 Ram pickup sales rose 21 percent to 355,673 units.
Chrysler executives told dealers that the company plans to beef up marketing for the SRT Viper sports coupe to boost its sales, dealers said.
After the meeting, Chuck Eddy, chairman of the Chrysler National Dealer Council, said Chrysler dealers netted an average profit of $800,000 per store last year, the best in decades. He said he and Reid Bigland, Chrysler's head of U.S. and Canadian sales, warned dealers not to get complacent.
"I told them not to lose sight of where we were," said Eddy, who owns a Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram store near Youngstown, Ohio. As Chrysler headed into bankruptcy "five years ago, people in this room were crying," he said.
Last year, Chrysler sold 1.8 million vehicles in the United States and fleet sales fell all year to below 20 percent at year end, Chrysler executives said.
In 2013, Chrysler squeezed out more production of two of its most profitable nameplates, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wrangler. The automaker added the Jeep Cherokee and increased sales of the Dodge Durango, which had a model freshening and an innovative advertising campaign tied to the movie Anchorman 2 with comedian Will Ferrell.
One dealer questioned Ferrell's Durango commercials, saying the spots demeaned the product and dealers. But other dealers disagreed. After the meeting, Elliott Andrews, vice president of Dayton Andrews Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram in Clearwater, Fla., said his dealership had seen a positive response from Ferrell's commercials.
"I sold 14 Durangos out of 103 new sales in December with the ads running," Andrews said. "The year before, I don't think I sold 14 Durangos all year."