Jeep sales up 58 percent, lead strong Chrysler performance

DETROIT — Jeep and its mainstay, the Wrangler, propelled Chrysler Group to its 17th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases in August.

Jeep sales shot up 58 percent last month, to 40,613 units. Chrysler Group sales rose 31 percent, the company said in a statement today.

All five Chrysler brands posted healthy increases, but Jeep stood out. All five Jeep models chalked up double- or triple-digit percentage increases.

Though failing to match its all-time monthly record set in July, the Wrangler kept up its torrid summer, topping Jeep with 12,949 units, up 69 percent from a year ago and an August sales record.

Wrangler customers responded to offers of $1,000 cash or 0 percent loans for 60 months that kicked off in July as part of the company’s summer clearance. And customers embraced the redesign of the Compass, which increased 130 percent for the month.

Chrysler’s 200 mid-sized sedan, known as the Sebring before a major makeover in 2011, again led the Chrysler brand. Chrysler sold 10,861 200s in August, more than doubling its predecessor’s August 2010 sales.

The 200’s performance was boosted by incentive spending. According to TrueCar.com analyst Jesse Toprak, transaction prices for the 200 were 14 percent below the sticker price, compared with 7 percent for the mid-sized sedan segment.

Chrysler Group boosted its overall incentive spending in August as it wound down the 2011 model year. At $3,511 per unit on average, Chrysler spent more on incentives in August than any of its other six volume competitors, according to a report by TrueCar.com. That number was down 5.6 percent from the $3,719 per unit the company spent in August 2010.

Chrysler reported a 59-day supply of vehicles at the end of the month. Sixty days is considered normal.

Chrysler said retail sales rose 42 percent in August compared to the same month a year ago. Chrysler does not divulge its retail and fleet sales breakdown.

“In spite of a volatile market, Chrysler managed to significantly outperform the industry,” Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Chrysler Group and CEO of Dodge brand, said in a statement.

Dodge brand sales rose 18 percent to 41,817 units. Ram brand truck sales, which includes the Ram and Dakota pickups, increased 7 percent to 22,086, and Chrysler brand was up 25 percent to 22,497.

Fiat sold 3,106 500s in August, the highest monthly total since the cars debuted in March.

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