In our trade, each beginning of the month means a bombardment of sales statistics from each of the manufacturers. Their primary goal, of course, is to highlight bright spots, models on the upswing, etc.
Needless to say that the automotive companies play these numbers like seasoned marketing pros. On the receiving end, prudence is required, as is a grain of salt with which to take the news of record-setting this and that. In any given month, for example, a special promotion on a particular product can strongly impact sales numbers.
On the other hand, sometimes certain trends merit close attention. Like the one that reveals, in stark numbers, the FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) Group sold more vehicles than Ford during the month of September.
This might not be so earth-shattering except for the fact that it hasn’t happened in 11 years. By the way, we would have liked to compare these with the sales figures of the third member of the American Big Three, but General Motors stopped publishing monthly numbers some time ago.
Pass the mustard, hold the panic
Specifically, the FCA Group moved 199,819 units in the United States in September, a jump of 15% that allowed it to overtake Ford with its 197,404 vehicles sold. Several experts have concluded that the latter’s decision to largely abandon the car segments in North America clearly dinged its performance, at least in the short term. The figures last month represented a 25.7% drop for the manufacturer in comparison with September 2017.
There’s no sign of panic within the walls of Ford HQ, though – and for good reason. For starters, the gap is still pretty small, just a few thousand units. And several other factors may be at play. Still, this definitely merits a close watch on the part of the top brass at Ford, for whom this cannot become the norm.
Over at FCA, the charge up the charts is led in good part by Jeep. In September, the brand registered an increase in sales of 14%, mainly on the backs of the Cherokee and Compass models. Since the beginning of 2018, sales of Jeeps are up by 20%.
Eyes all around will be glued to see if the trend is maintained in the coming months. When Ford has completed its shift to a (virtually) all-SUV-and-truck lineup of products, it will be time to see if things go back to normal.
Still, the mood must be giddy over at FCA…