Chrysler has become the envy of Detroit because of its strong sales and new models. Just a few years ago, the company plunged into bankruptcy. But it managed to revive its business and left Ford Motor Company and General Motors playing catch up.
Chrysler is the smallest among the American automakers. It kicked off the Detroit auto show Monday with new models of the Compass SUV and the Grand Cherokee. The two Jeep models helped the company’s strong sales growth since tis bankruptcy and government bailout in 2009.
Chrysler got a 20.6 percent increase in its domestic sales, which outperformed the industry that grew by 13.4 percent. Its best-sellers are the Grand Cherokee and Ram pickup. New cars such as the Dodge Dart also started to reduce the company’s dependence on larger vehicles. General Motors got sales increase of 3.7 percent while Ford got a 4.7 percent increase.
Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Chrysler and its Italian parent Fiat, said that he expected Chrysler’s upward trend in sales to continue this year, especially in SUVs and pickups. He added that there are indicators that the US market is improving.
Marchionne also said that there are plans of building a new, entry-level Jeep at the underutilized Fiat plant in Italy. This shows that the American company is helping its European parent company through tough economic times.
Sales of Chrysler products account for more than 60 percent of the total vehicles sold under the Fiat corporate umbrella. Other brands in it are Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Industry executives were skeptical that the American company can be successful after the failures of its previous owners when Fiat was in the process of acquiring Chrysler during its federal bailout.
Chrysler appears to sustain the gains it got last year as Ford and General Motors retrench after lagging behind in 2012. GM introduced a new version of its Corvette sports car at the Detroit show. It also brought redesigns of its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks.