Chrysler posts best February U.S. sales in five years

DETROIT, Fri Mar 1, 2013 — Chrysler Group LLC said Friday its U.S. sales of 139,015 in February rose 4 percent from 133,521 a year before and were its best February sales in five years.

The sales tally barely missed the consensus estimate of 140,159 from analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

The automaker, majority owned by Fiat SpA, said sales of the Dodge, Ram Truck and Fiat brands posted year-to-year increases, while the Chrysler and Jeep brands saw declines from a year before.

Chrysler is the first of the major automakers to report February sales.

Industry sales in February were expected to show a fourth straight month of seasonally adjusted annualized sales above 15 million vehicles, for the first time since early 2008, a sign of a sustained recovery after the recession.

At Chrysler, Dodge brand sales in February rose 30 percent to 55,639. Ram Truck sales were up 2 percent to 23,827 and Fiat 500 sales were up 2 percent to 3,302.

Jeep brand sales fell 16 percent to 31,164 and Chrysler brand sales dropped 7 percent to 25,083.

Chrysler said some Jeep vehicles have been in short supply, with the discontinuation of the Liberty last summer and the recent launch of the 2014 Grand Cherokee.

Chrysler Group earnings rise 68 percent on strong sales

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Wed Jan 30, 2013 — Chrysler Group LLC reported a rise of 68 percent in fourth-quarter net income, to $378 million from $225 million a year ago, driven by higher vehicle sales in its home North American market.

For all of 2012, Chrysler said its net income was $1.67 billion, up from $183 million in 2011.

Chrysler, majority owned by Italy’s Fiat SpA, said its net income would rise to about $2.2 billion in 2013.

Chrysler’s 2012 net revenue was $65.78 billion, up from $54.98 billion in 2011.

The company said its 2013 revenue would be between $72 billion and $75 billion.

Fiat CEO: plan to buy Chrysler shares

NEW YORK, Fri Dec 14, 2012 — Italian carmaker Fiat SpA fully intends to acquire the 41.5 percent of Chrysler Group shares that it does not now own, but wrangling over the price could continue for a while, Fiat-Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne said on Friday.

Fiat is in arbitration proceedings with the owner of the shares, a United Auto Workers trust fund that pays medical benefits to retired workers. The trust fund acquired the shares during the U.S. government-sponsored bankruptcy and bailout of Chrysler in 2009, when Fiat gained an ownership stake and management control of the U.S. automaker.

“We’ve always taken the position that we would have to pay them, but the question is price,” said Marchionne, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the Council for the United States and Italy, an international-relations group. The current arbitration proceedings, he added, are “part of the dance.”

Time not on Fiat’s side in billion dollar Chrysler deal

MILAN/DELAWARE, Fri Dec 7, 2012 — Fiat’s bid to win full control of more profitable Chrysler is set to become more expensive in a few weeks, as a court ruling on a price dispute drags on and Chrysler’s possible share flotation looms.

The Italian carmaker has 58.5 percent of Chrysler, and a right to buy 16.4 percent more over the next three years at a price determined by a formula worked out in 2009 when Chrysler was exiting bankruptcy.

But a dispute over the price has ended up in a Delaware court, which will decide whether Fiat must pay up to $1.70 billion as demanded by VEBA, a carworkers’ union’s healthcare trust, for the stake. The ruling is unlikely to come by the end of the year as Fiat hopes.

“That works in VEBA’s favor,” said Brian Quinn, a professor at Boston College Law School. “If Fiat wants to get this done by year-end, it will have to settle.”

The amount VEBA wants is double the $754 million Fiat has calculated the stake is worth, based on the formula.

Right now Fiat and VEBA are circling each other like two wrestlers before a fight. Fiat wants VEBA’s stake, and VEBA wants Fiat’s cash. There is only one buyer — Fiat.

 

That changes from January 1, when VEBA gains the right to sell part of its Chrysler stake in an initial public offering.

That gives it important leverage in any future negotiations with Fiat and could make the price Fiat pays more expensive.

Sergio Marchionne, at the helm of both Fiat and Chrysler, said in October the legal spat could be resolved by year-end.

But law experts say the lawsuit could drag on for months.

“It’s really hard to see how this (case) could get prepared, tried and decided in less than two months,” said Larry Hamermesh, a professor at Widener University School of Law in Wilmington Delaware.

“Barring some showing of need for expedition, or a settlement, I’d say upwards of a year from now would be optimistic.”

Chrysler to showcase new glam minivan this week

DETROIT, Tue Nov 27, 2012 — Chrysler Group LLC, which popularized the minivan nearly 30 years ago, will showcase an upscale version of its Chrysler Town & Country family minivan at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.

The 2013 Town & Country S includes a standard Blu-Ray DVD player as well as a black chrome grill and black interior. The minivan is the third Chrysler model to join the automaker’s “S” lineup after the 200 and 300 sedans.

Earlier this month, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne told reporters that the automaker was “more or less” on track to launch a redesigned minivan by 2014. The company is the dominant player in the minivan segment, which it launched in 1983 under former CEO Lee Iacocca.

“We have spent an inordinate amount of time looking at that market,” Marchionne said, adding that the new minivan has been tested in consumer clinics for more than a year.

U.S. minivan sales peaked in 2000 at just more than 1.3 million and today’s sales are about half that, due in part to higher gasoline prices and the “soccer mom” stigma – that only families favor them. Over the last several years, Chrysler’s U.S. rivals, General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., stopped production of their less-popular minivans.

Chrysler U.S. August sales up 14 percent

DETROIT, Tue Sep 4, 2012 – Chrysler Group LLC reported its 29th consecutive month of year-on-year sales gains with a 14-percent rise in August.

Chrysler sales were 148,472 vehicles, which the company said showed its best performance for August since 2007.

U.S. auto industry sales should be 14.6 million new vehicles on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, including medium and heavy-duty trucks, Chrysler said.

Taking out the medium and heavy trucks, that would be about 14.3 million light cars and trucks, compared with 14.1 million projected in July.

Analysts use the light vehicles sales figure as a key measure of the industry’s health.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters last week expected an August annualized sales rate of 14.2 million light vehicles.

Chrysler is managed by and majority owned by Fiat SpA.

Chrysler’s Ram 1500 pickup truck relying on fuel economy, price

DETROIT, Fri Aug 24, 2012 – Chrysler Group LLC is betting that better fuel economy and a moderate 1 percent increase in price from last year’s models will help its line of 2013 Ram 1500 pickup trucks gain ground on industry leaders from Ford and Chevrolet.

The first redesign since 2009 for the biggest-selling vehicle in the Chrysler lineup has led to a pickup truck with more technology and less weight to go along with the usual pickup truck marketing features of power and towing ability, analysts who have driven the new Ram 1500 said.

The Ram 1500 goes on sale in the United States in October.

The starting price will be $23,585, including destination charges, Chrysler said on Friday. The highest-priced version in the Ram 1500 lineup will be a four-wheel-drive “Laramie Longhorn” crew cab at $48,415, including destination charges.

Chrysler, majority-owned by Italy’s Fiat SpA, won’t be able to topple the top-selling Ford Motor Co. F-150 or the No. 2 General Motors Co. Chevrolet Silverado in U.S. sales, but this improved Ram offering may narrow the gap, said analysts.

Edmunds.com director of vehicle testing, Dan Edmunds, said the Ram 1500, even an improved offering, faces an uphill battle against Ford and GM because pickup truck customers have fierce brand loyalty.

“There’s definitely some technical benefits and there’s some real benefits to the customer,” Edmunds said. “They’ve got a good solid product here. The question is – does it overcome years of brand loyalty? That’s hard to say.”

Chrysler recalls 1,661 Dodge SUVs for airbag issue

DETROIT, Thu Aug 16, 2012 – Chrysler Group LLC is recalling 1,661 2013-model Dodge Durango sport utility vehicles in the United States and Canada because certain some airbags may not deploy in an accident.

The recall affects 1,449 of the seven-passenger versions of the SUVs in the United States and 212 in Canada and other markets.

Chrysler, which is majority owned and managed by Fiat SpA of Italy, said some of the seven-passenger versions of the Durango may have been built with the incorrect airbag occupant restraint control module, and in the event of a side impact rear of the second row of seats, the supplemental side airbag inflatable curtain behind that row might not properly deploy. The modules were meant for the five-passenger versions of the SUVs, but were mislabeled, Chrysler said.

Chrysler said it was not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue and most of the affected vehicles are still in the hands of dealers.

Chrysler, which will replace the module free of charge, expects to begin the recall in September, according to documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Chrysler CEO reiterates no IPO in 2012

DETROIT, Tue Jul 31, 2012 – Chrysler Group LLC Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said on Tuesday, as he has previously, that an initial public offering of company stock will not occur this year.
“This is not a 2012 event,” Marchionne said on a conference call on Chrysler’s second quarter earnings. Marchionne is also chief executive of Chrysler’s majority owner Fiat SpA.
“We obviously have ongoing discussion with VEBA” about a possible IPO for Chrysler in 2013, Marchionne said.
Fiat owns 58.5 percent of Chrysler and VEBA, the healthcare trust for Chrysler retirees run by the United Auto Workers union, owns the remaining shares.
Marchionne in early July announced the intention for Fiat to exercise a call option to increase its share in Chrysler by 3.3 percentage points to 61.8 percent.

Chrysler June sales up 20 percent, slightly above expectations

DETROIT, Tue Jul 3, 2012, – Chrysler Group LLC’s June U.S. auto sales rose 20 percent to 144,811 vehicles, the company said on Tuesday, slightly topping analyst expectations.

It was the 27th consecutive month that Chrysler sales topped those from the previous year, and its best June sales since 2007.

Chrysler, an affiliate of Italy’s Fiat SpA, is the first of the major automakers to report U.S. June sales.

J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive expect a 20-percent gain in U.S. auto sales for June.

Auto sales are an early sign of consumer spending each month. The auto industry has been one of the bright spots in the U.S. economy this year, but deteriorating European markets have led industry executives to worry about possible contagion spreading to North America.

The Chrysler brand of vehicles showed a 63-percent gain in sales, followed by its Jeep brand at a 23-percent gain, Ram truck up 12 percent and the Dodge brand up only 2 percent, Chrysler said.