January Sales: Chrysler Kicks Off 2011 with 23-Percent Improvement

Even though the new vehicles are still rolling into dealer lots, Chrysler seems to be off to a running start for 2011 with a 23-percent improvement based on freshly released January sales. In all, the Auburn Hills-based automaker moved 70,118 vehicles.

Traditionally one of the weaker months in terms of overall volume, Chrysler experienced a 30,000-unit drop over December 2010, though December’s sales are undoubtedly helped by the usual dealer year-end sales push. Nevertheless, there has been growth in the start of 2011, presumably helped in large part by the rash of refreshed product.

Ram – 13,020 units total, up 18 percent

We start the numbers game off with the reigning Chrysler Group vehicle leader: the Ram pickup truck. The full-size truck line sold 12,197 units, which is more than the entire Chrysler brand alone. Ram trucks were up 22 percent in January, with the aged, midsize Dakota picking up the rest of the slack.

Chrysler – 9705 units total, down 7 percent

The Town & Country continues its offensive after finishing 2010 with a bang. The minivan made up a significant chunk of the brand’s January sales with 6552 sold, good for a 45-percent gain. Last year, the T&C reclaimed the minivan sales crown with 112,275 total sales, but it will be up against even stiffer competition in 2011.

The 300 saw 1329 sedans sold in January, registering a 20-percent drop. Luckily, the 2011 300 is just getting into dealers now, which should give it a nice boost throughout the remaining 11 months. Elsewhere, the 200 narrowly outsold the now-gone Sebring – 765 to 717 – to start its cycle, and the PT Cruiser continues to wind down its lengthy run with 342 sold (down 47 percent).

Dodge – 24,314 units total, up 22 percent

Chrysler’s mainstream brand was helped immensely by an all-around effort, though we’d single out the Grand Caravan (7813, up 82 percent), Journey (3973, down 17 percent), and Challenger (2526, up 50 percent) for being the top-three sellers. Thanks to a heavily revised model for 2011, the Journey gained slightly in volume from December 2010 (3830), a good sign for the midsize crossover’s future fortunes.

The biggest Dodge loser in January was the Avenger, off 26 percent with 2317 sold; however, an updated version is just hitting dealers now. The biggest winner was the Durango, up 5113 percent with 1199 sold though it’s important to remember there was a hefty lapse between the last and current generations. The Charger charged into 2011 with 2062 sales, down 3 percent.

The Caliber and Nitro continued their faithful run with 2412 (down 4 percent) and 1950 (up 43 percent) units sold, respectively. As part of the Viper’s final hurrah, 62 customers got their hands on the last of this breed (up 138 percent).

Jeep – 23,079 units total, up 47 percent

For a good amount of time, the Wrangler was Jeep’s top seller, but the new Grand Cherokee has since taken the SUV market by storm. In January, the Grand Cherokee was responsible for 7612 sales, a gain of 130 percent. Almost automatically, the Wrangler comes in second with 6444 sold (up 32 percent). The Liberty (4052 sales, up 36 percent), Patriot (3452 sales, up 75 percent), Compass (1423 sales, up 14 percent), and now-discontinued Commander (96 sold, down 93 percent) following in succession.

With January sales in the bag, Chrysler also reports it has an 89-day supply of inventory with 260,533 vehicles at the ready.