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Fiat Chrysler’s US Sales Fell after 11 Months of Gains

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FCAU’s US sales in February 2019

In February 2019, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCAU) total US sales were at 162,036 vehicles, which was about 2.3% lower than the company’s US sales of 165,903 vehicle units in the same month of 2018 but about 19.1% higher than the 1,36,082 units sold in January 2019. February was the first month of decline for FCAU’s US sales after YoY gains in the past 11 months.

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US retail sales trend

In February 2019, Fiat Chrysler didn’t report separate data for its retail and fleet sales. In January, Fiat Chrysler’s retail sales fell by 6.5% YoY to 1,04,290 vehicle units. US auto companies Ford (F) and General Motors (GM) no longer report their monthly sales data and expect to release their first-quarter sales data in the first week of April. In January 2019, FCAU’s fleet sales witnessed a sharp increase of about 49.8% YoY to 31,792 vehicle units, accounting for ~23% of its total US sales.

Retail sales in 2018

In 2018, Fiat Chrysler reported US retail sales of 1.76 million units, the highest volume since 2001, while its total US sales rose by about 9% to 2.24 million units. The company’s solid retail sales gains boosted its total US sales in 2018. As a percentage of its total US sales, Fiat Chrysler’s 2018 retail sales volume was about 79%.

Since early 2017, Fiat Chrysler has been trying to cut its US fleet sales to the daily rental segment to improve operating margins, just like US giant General Motors (GM). This is because daily rental segment sales typically result in lower profit margins for auto companies (FXD) as compared to their profits from retail sales. On the other hand, improvement in fleet sales helps an automaker to gain higher market share.

It’s noteworthy that due to this planned cut in fleet sales, FCAU has lost its US market share to peers like Toyota (TM), GM, and Ford in the last few quarters.

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