Chrysler Canada started off 2012 with a bang. Sales in January were up 21.9 per cent and, for the first time in memory, Chrysler was the No. 1 car company in Canada by sales. Market share hit an astonishing 16.9 per cent, well ahead of Ford of Canada at 15.4 per cent. In 2011, Ford was No. 1 in Canada by sales.
"Chrysler has been one of the fastest if not the fastest-growing brand the last two years and this has finally translated into Chrysler becoming the number one seller of light vehicles in Canada in January," said auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers in a note to clients.
"[Chrysler]displaced Ford from the number one position even though Ford had a pretty good month with sales up 4.6 per cent from a high base a year ago. Last February, they did this and were not able to maintain the position all year but it is a fantastic start to the year for Chrysler."
Until new models with big sales-volume potential arrive – cars like the 2013 Dodge Dart – Chrysler remains dependent on a small handful of vehicles for the bulk of its sales. About two-thirds of all Chrysler Canada sales came from just three models: the Ram pickup, the Dodge Caravan minivan and the Dodge Journey crossover wagon.
"Chrysler had a great year (in 2011) with light trucks with the Dodge Ram and Dodge Caravan finishing the year as the second- and third best-selling light trucks in Canada and the Dodge Journey was in the seventh position," says DesRosiers. "Both the Ram and Journey saw sales increase while Caravan fell back just a little."
Chrysler's heavy reliance on three models will only start to ease when the Dart and a raft of other Fiat-based models go on sale. The Dart will arrive by the middle of this year, followed next year by a number of other Fiat-based models:
- Chrysler brand: compact car and a replacement for the current 200.
- Dodge: the Dart, a subcompact car and a mid-size car.
- Jeep: subcompact and compact vehicles are coming, along with a replacement for the Liberty SUV and perhaps the debut of a Grand Wagoneer.
- Ram: the Ram pickup will be re-engineered, and small and large vans are coming.