Dave Waddell, Windsor Star
October 2, 2019

Minivan sales tumbled for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the third quarter of 2019 as consumers continued their migration to light trucks/SUVs.

Pacifica sales in the U.S. were down 24 per cent (21,697 sold) while the Caravan dropped 20 per cent (27,456 sold). In Canada, sales of the Pacifica (906) and the Caravan (6,273) slipped by eight per cent apiece.

“I don’t think there any surprises in a plateauing of the market, but there’s some surprise in some segments like the minivan,” said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.

“That market seems to be softening against crossovers at a rate quicker than most analysts predicted. Sometimes we see products that look good in a vacuum, but maybe don’t match the momentary dynamics (of the market).”

Overall FCA Canada enjoyed a buoyant third quarter with sales up 19 per cent to 60,928 vehicles compared to last year.

Ram truck sales were up 43 per cent while Jeep climbed by 19 per cent.

Total sales for FCA US were flat.

Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association of Canada, speaks during a NAFTA negotiations update event at the Ciociaro Club on Wednesday, February 21, 2018. DAN JANISSE / WINDSOR STAR

“Double digit increases from both the Jeep and Ram brands demonstrate that we are delivering trucks and SUVs throughout the country that hit the sweet spot of the Canadian market,” FCA Canada president Reid Bigland said in a released statement.

FCA’s numbers come in the face of a Canadian market that saw sales decline or stagnation for most auto manufacturers.

It was also particularly good news for Canadian workers at the Brampton assembly plant where FCA manufacturers the Charger, Challenger and Chrysler 300.

Charger sales jumped 46 per cent to 26,060 in the U.S. while the Challenger was up 21 per cent (18,031). Sales of the Challenger were also up 23 per cent in Canada, but the Charger was down 67 per cent.

Bigland said consumers are also opting for higher-priced trim packages and extra features increasing FCA’s average transaction prices.

“I’m wondering if their competition getting out of the car market bumps them up in this segment,” Volpe said.

“FCA has done a great job of keeping the Challenger and Charger fresh on an older chassis and in the news. If you’re getting into a powerful, rear-wheel drive vehicle, the Dodges with four doors and the Chrysler 300 to a degree, have no equivalent.”

General Motors also reported positive numbers with quarterly sales up 6.3 per cent with 738,638 vehicles sold.

The company enjoyed sales increases ranging from 4.6 to 11.4 per cent across its four divisions.

The Equinox, which is built at GM’s Cami plant in Ingersoll, enjoyed a sales increase of 2.3 per cent (79,799).

Ford sales were down 4.9 per cent to 580,251 vehicles.

Despite a six per cent drop in the sales of F-150 series trucks, Ford enjoyed an 8.8 per cent increase in overall truck sales.

The Lincoln division also rose 11 per cent while cars sales were down 31 per cent and SUV sales were off 13.2 per cent.

Ford products built in Canada enjoyed a generally positive quarter.

Sales of the Edge were up 18.7 per cent (36,660), Lincoln MKT up 15.3 per cent (625), Lincoln MKX up 24.1 per cent (7,962) and the Ford GT was up 48.6 per cent (52). The Flex was down 7.3 per cent (5,574).

The Mustang, which offers an engine option built in Windsor, saw sales slip 12.3 per cent in the quarter to 16,823.

Honda and Toyota, which have plants in Alliston, Cambridge and Woodstock, had mixed results.

Honda’s Canadian sales were off 3.4 per cent while Toyota was up 4.9 per cent.

Volpe said based on what he’s seeing from his membership, he anticipates sales will start to solidify and show growth in 2020.
“Our volumes are robust and that’s usually the best indicator we have,” Volpe said.

“There are a lot of older, high-volume programs turning over (in the next three years). New models usually result in a spike in sales.”

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