Fiat Chrysler Australia’s recent, significant sales growth has hit a bit of a snag over the first four months of this year.
Registrations and market share across its group of brands are down over the same period in 2014, against an overall market up 3.5 per cent.
The performances of the brands between January and April this year, against the same period in 2014, are thus (standalone April figures in brackets):
Italian brands: Alfa Romeo annual registrations of 595 units, down 34.5 per cent (150 units, down 30.9 per cent). Fiat annual registrations of 1631 units, down 17.6 per cent (353 units, down 25.8 per cent). Fiat Professional annual registrations of 364 units, down 18.8 per cent (87, down 31.0 per cent).
US brands: Chrysler annual registrations of 263 units, down 52.6 per cent (50 units, down 72.5 per cent). Dodge annual registrations of 421 units, down 20.3 per cent (110, up 17.0 per cent). Jeep annual registrations of 9671, up 10.4 per cent (2088, up 1.0 per cent).
Alfa Romeo Giulietta registrations have halved this year to 444 units, partly due to the rollout of an updated model and the preceding stock limitations, as well as the company’s decision to axe the price-leading variant and shift the branding further upmarket to prepare for the Giulia in 2016.
The Fiat 500 remains one of the nation’s top-selling micro cars YTD and has held about steady with volume of 927 units. Despite recent price increases at base level, some dealers are still charging the friendlier old price.
But the aged Punto (down 62.2 per cent to 127 YTD), the Freemont (15.0 per cent to 464) and the Panda (down 12.4 per cent to 113) have all taken hits. Fiat should get a boost in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2015 when it launches the 500X crossover SUV.
The Chrysler 300 has dropped more than 50.0 per cent to 233 units, a symptom in some part of the continued market exodus from large passenger cars, while Dodge is down 20.3 per cent to 421 units, though its sole model — the Journey — did grow 17.0 per cent in April.
As mentioned, Jeep’s registrations have grown 10.4 per cent to 9671 units. But dig a little deeper and it becomes apparent that it really should be higher.
That’s because the new Cherokee, launched last year, has accounted for 2937 of those registrations against just 17 last year. That’s pure incremental growth. The Compass, Patriot and Wrangler are all down double digits.
The Grand Cherokee is also down 15.6 per cent to 4328 units — a victim in part of 60 day stock delays due to the need to fumigate a number of US-made cars headed here on account of a stink bug outbreak. Yes, you read that correctly.
Jeep should get a boost once Grand Cherokee imports are restored, and once the Renegade launches in Q4. Expect to see an aggressive retail campaign on the Compass and Patriot soon, too.
It has now been three years since the importation of all Fiat Chrysler vehicles in Australia were unified and taken in-house by Chrysler Australia, and away from independent distributorship. From May 1, 2012, the rights to Fiat and Alfa Romeo vehicles locally were acquired from Ateco.
What became known as Fiat Chrysler Australia was born.
Over that period, the factory importer has leveraged its position to cut the price a number of the brands’ offerings, expand the respective dealer networks and bolster marketing strategies. Naturally, it has also launched numerous new models that have helped add incremental volume.
The result has been a fair degree of sales growth. Between December 2011 and December 2014, Alfa Romeo sales grew 129.0 per cent, Chrysler grew 185.7 per cent, Fiat grew 982.3 per cent per cent, Fiat Professional grew 22.1 per cent per cent and Jeep grew 251.6 per cent.
Fiat proportionally was the star, but it’s really Jeep that has become a force, outselling the likes of Kia in 2014 with 30,408 deliveries. The Grand Cherokee was also the nation’s top-selling large SUV.
Only Dodge shrank, both in terms of sales and in its range of model offerings. Now consisting solely of the Journey MPV, sales fell 42.7 per cent over the three-year window.