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Chrysler says sales heading up

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Chrysler says sales heading up

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News

Auburn Hills -- Chrysler Group LLC said March retail sales are tracking 51 percent above last month, but overall sales could be down 12 percent from a year ago.

All four brands are enjoying increased sales, retail in particular, in the first weeks of March, "which is huge," said Fred Diaz, head of sales, as well as the Ram truck brand, at an event this morning to outline the marketing and advertising strategy for the Ram brand.

But when results are reported in April, they will likely show Chrysler down as much as 12 percent from a year ago when the automaker was piling on the incentives.

"We were buying the market," Diaz said of discounts of as much as $8,000 on vehicles last spring. Using incentives to clear oversupply of vehicles was among Chrysler's past "bad practices" that Diaz said essentially led the company to declare bankruptcy April 30.

And while Chrysler, like all competitors, is watching Toyota Motor Corp.'s growing incentives as it battles negative fallout from a series of recalls, Diaz said Chrysler will honor its commitment to dealers to keep them competitive without returning to the days of large and damaging discounts.

Chrysler sold 84,449 vehicles in February, flat from February 2009, but the automaker has been lagging the field in recovering from terrible sales levels over the past year.

The automaker hopes to restore consumer interest in its products with more aggressive advertising as part of a new marketing campaign outlined Tuesday by Diaz and marketing chief Olivier Francois.

New ads for the Ram heavy-duty pickup, many of them geographically targeted, began running last week and trucks will tour the country over the next year as part of a series of road tours and events planned to showcase them to the public.

From The Detroit News:


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Chrysler exec: March retail sales up 51% from February



Chrysler, which is launching an advertising campaign for its 2011 heavy-duty Ram pickup, said the company’s March retail sales through the first three weeks are running 51% ahead of February’s pace, but lower than a year earlier when the company used large rebates to minimize declining sales.

“We are not going back to the days when we put six, seven or $8,000 on the hood of a vehicle,” said Fred Diaz, president and CEO of Ram truck brand.

Automakers will report March sales on April 1.

All four Chrysler brands – Ram, Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep – will be allocating more money for advertising new vehicles rather than incentives, said Olivier Francois, president and CEO of Chrysler brand and Chrysler’s top marketing executive. In February, Chrysler’s spending on rebates, discounted financing and other incentives fell 31% from a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp.

While Diaz and Francois declined to say how much they plan to spend on a new Ram truck ad campaign that launched March 18. Tuesday they showed some of the spots, done by the Richards Group of Dallas. Using helicopter-mounted cameras and real construction workers and firefighters, the ads target the types of people who need rugged trucks for work and hobbies such as boating and horseback riding.

The repeated tag line is “Power with Purpose.” One of the marketing purposes is to distinguish the new Ram brand as separate from its traditional Dodge umbrella.

“Complete separation is what I would call it,” said Diaz. “If someone wants to say they drive a Dodge Ram that would be accurate, but you will not see the Dodge name in our advertising.”

The heavy-duty trucks – such as the Ram 2500, 3500, 4500 and 5500 -- account for 30% of all Ram pickup sales, and 85% of the larger work trucks will be powered by a Cummins 6.7-liter turbo diesel engine. All Rams accounted for about 24% of Chrysler’s U.S. sales by unit and 30% of its sales revenue.

Prices for the heavy-duty chassis cab trucks will start at $28,550 for the 2500, $31,760 for the 3500, $37,265 for the 4500 and $42,685 for the 5500. Fully loaded with all available options, the heavy-duty trucks can range well above $50,000.



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