Now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America, the former Chrysler Group is third-largest homegrown US auto manufacturer. It is the parent for four distinctively American brands - Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram trucks - and now also a small selection of the parent group's European vehicles. Though Chrysler has retained its position in the corporate name, it is actually the company's smallest (and weakest) business. Instead, the twin powerhouses of the US operation are Jeep and Ram Trucks, the country's #6 and #7 sellers in 2019, with sales of 923k and 703k vehicles respectively. Mainstream passenger car brand Dodge wasn't too far behind at 423k, but Chrysler didn't even make the Top 20 at 127k vehicles. US sales of Fiat were negligible, halving during 2018 and again in 2019 to just 9k units, while Alfa Romeo slumped by almost a quarter to 18k. In terms of individual models, the main Ram pick-up was America's #2 best-selling model that year, sitting between its counterparts from Ford and Chevrolet, all three selling more than any other vehicle. Combined revenues for FCA NA in 2019 were $73.4bn, and the business contributed more than 90% of the parent group's combined profits. Mark Stewart is COO for FCA's North America region, reporting to group CEO Michael Manley. The old Chrysler business has undergone numerous upheavals in recent years, and several different owners. Created by former General Motors executive Walter Chrysler in the 1920s from the acquisition of several struggling independent car makers, it became one of America's most celebrated manufacturers during the 1930s, overtaking Ford to become the #2 behind General Motors. However, the death of Walter Chrysler in 1940 created a vacuum, and performance drifted in the post-war period. Having first narrowly avoided collapse at the end of the 1970s it was eventually acquired by Germany's Daimler in 1997 to form global giant DaimlerChrysler. The experiment never really worked, and Daimler cut its ties after a decade, selling the business to private equity investors. By the end of 2008, the newly independent group was once again on the brink of catastrophe, saved from bankruptcy only by funding from the US and Canadian governments. After struggling for months to present the US government with a turnaround pla, Chrysler finally agreed a partnership with Italian carmaker Fiat, which acquired management control during 2011. A full merger of the two companies took place in early 2014. FCA will itself merge again in 2020 or 2021 with PSA Groupe of France.
Capsule checked 14th February 2020
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Adbrands Weekly Update 4th Jan 2018: Early estimates suggest that global car sales surpassed a record 90m in 2017 as a result of the continuing recovery in Western Europe and a rebound in emerging markets like Brazil and Russia. However US sales slipped back for the first time since 2009, down almost 2% to 17.2m vehicles. That still represented an unprecedented three-year run of over 17m per year, but market watcher Edmunds predicts an even steeper decline this year to 16.8m. The biggest growth factor in US sales has been the surge in sales of light trucks over traditional passenger cars. For the year, SUVs and pickups accounted for almost two-thirds of total sales, rising to 69% of total sales for the final month. GM led the market with just over 3m units for the year, down a little over 1% on 2016. Cadillac and Buick were both down, 8% and 4.5% respectively; so was Chevrolet, slipping 1.5% to 2.06m units. However, those declines were offset by GMC's 2.6% increase. Ford held second place with a total of 2.59m deliveries, also down 1%. The Ford brand's 2.51m units were led by the F-series pickup, which marked its 36th year as America's best-selling model. Toyota group sales slipped 0.6% to 2.4m units, but volumes of 2.13m for the main Toyota brand lifted it above Chevrolet to become the #2 seller in the US. The Camry was surpassed as Toyota's top-selling model for the first time in 28 years by the RAV4 compact SUV. FCA sales fell 8% to 2.04m, as a 2% increase for Ram was offset by near-20% declines for Fiat and Chrysler, and 10% and 12% slides for Jeep and Dodge. Honda and Nissan both claimed best-ever sales in the US at 1.64m and 1.59m respectively, but Hyundai and Kia were down for the year by 13% and 9% respectively. That allowed Suburu to overtake Kia for the #9 position among US autos with a 6% increase to a best-ever 648k units. Mercedes-Benz retained its crown as the top-selling luxury brand at 375k.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Jan 2017: Following their victory over Volkswagen Group, US regulators have now turned their attention to other manufacturers, with Fiat Chrysler first on their list of target. Late last week the Environmental Protection Agency accused FCA of violating emissions limits in more than 100,000 diesel-powered Dodge and Jeep vehicles sold in the US since 2014. According to the EPA, 3.0 litre models of both vehicles carry engine management software similar to Volkswagen's which can disguise emissions levels in certain conditions. The potential fine could be as high as $4.6bn, said the agency. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne denied the company had deliberately tried to defeat the emissions testing process and has agreed to work with the EPA to resolve the situation. Fiat Chrysler's US share price plunged by as much as 18% following the EPA's accusation.
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