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(Toledo News Now) -
On Tuesday, Chrysler Group LLC reported U.S. sales for the month of March at 171,606 units, which is a 5 percent increase compared to sales in March 2012 at 163,381 units. It was also the group's best monthly sales since December 2007.
The Dodge, Ram Truck and FIAT brands each posted year-over-year sales gains in March compared with the same month last year. The Ram Truck brand's 24 percent increase was the largest sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand in March.
Chrysler Group extended its streak of year-over-year sales gains to 36 consecutive months in March. This sales milestone tops a previous sales streak of 35, which occurred from February 1992 through December 1994.
Jeep reported sales were up 27 percent from March 2012. However, the Jeep brand sales were down 13-percent when looking at year-over-year. Most attribute that to the Jeep Liberty production ending, coupled with the launch of the new 2014 Jeep products, like the Cherokee, which will be made in Toledo.
The Jeep Cherokee was unveiled at the New York International Auto Show last week. Production on that will add 1,100 new jobs to the Toledo Assembly Complex. The goal is to begin production May 23, with the first Cherokees hitting dealerships late summer.
"With our 5 percent sales increase in March, Chrysler Group has now achieved year-over-year sales gains in every month for the past three years," said Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales. "Furthermore, in spite of limited inventory last month on some of our most popular models, we also managed to record our strongest monthly sales since December 2007."
Five Chrysler Group vehicles set all-time sales records in March. Sales of the Ram pickup truck were up 25 percent in March, which was its best sales ever. Both the Light-Duty Ram and Heavy-Duty Ram pickups were substantially refreshed for the 2013 model year. The Ram 1500 was also tagged as Motor Trend's 2013 Truck of the Year.
In addition to the Ram, three Dodge models recorded their best sales ever in March. The all-new Dodge Dart compact car set an all-time sales record with its 5 percent month-over-month sales gain. Dart sales have increased in every month but one since the all-new model was launched in June 2012. In addition, the Dodge Avenger mid-size sedan and Dodge Challenger muscle car each set all-time sales records in March. The Challenger recorded its best sales ever with a substantial 42 percent sales gain. The Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan also recorded an all-time sales record with an 11 percent sales gain.
Chrysler Group finished the month with a 66-days supply of inventory with 419,084 units. U.S. industry sales figures for March are projected at an estimated 15.6 million units Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate.
One local dealer says it is like a snowball effect: when one part of the company is doing well, the entire company just falls in line.
"It's been consistently growing year-over-year with Chrysler," said Dave Doster manager with Yark Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram in Toledo.
Doster says the quality of the vehicles plays a vital role in the sell increase.
"I think the product line-up really means a lot and, you know, their putting out a lot of good product," said Doster.
Along with a better product, the economy is in a better state. Some of the reasons why Doster says last month saw record increases.
"People are getting tax money back. I mean, March is always a big month over January and February, which dealers tend to struggle with because of the weather," explained Doster.
Not only do the increases help local dealers, they play an important role for the Chrysler plant located in the Glass City.
"Having the plants here is a big plus for us selling the Chrysler product. It's just a continuing, better, consistent grow effect," said Doster.
With the release of the new Jeep Cherokee, dealers expect sells to soar even higher.
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