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Chrysler LLC U.S. March sales mark six-month high

Posted Wednesday, Apr 1, 2009, 2:42 pm in Employee News

• Total U.S. sales for March surpass 100,000 units for the first time since September
• Dodge Ram sales increase 34 percent in March compared with previous month
• Jeep® Wrangler sales rise 16 percent year-over-year
• Dodge Journey sales increase 127 percent in March versus year before

Chrysler LLC today reported March U.S. sales of 101,001 units, which is the first time since September 2008 that the company surpassed 100,000 units, but representing a 39 percent decrease versus March a year ago.

Chrysler retail market share increased to an estimated 10 percent versus 9.9 percent in March 2008. Total March sales include a fleet reduction of 44 percent year-over-year for the same period, as the company continues to emphasize retail sales over fleet sales.

“The market is starting to show small signs of life which need to be nourished like seedlings,” Vice Chairman and President Jim Press said. “The fact that we exceeded 100,000 units for the first time since last fall is encouraging and evidence that our improved quality, improved mileage as well as value represented in Employee Pricing Plus Plus are just what the doctor ordered for recession-wary customers who are reluctant to make long-term purchases. It’s too early to see a trend, but spring shows signs of hope.

“It’s business as usual as we stay focused on our customers and dealers, listening to what they have to say and building their confidence and trust,” Press added. “The U.S. government provided a critical vote of confidence in the company’s alliance with Fiat SpA. The administration’s announcement gave Chrysler a clear path to finalize plans for the future. Moving forward, our goal is to translate that confidence to our customers through our continued focus on quality, reliability and service.”

According to Press, “Our internal warranty data shows that we have achieved the lowest claim rate in our company’s history, with a 30 percent improvement in the last 12 months. And reinforcing the company’s improved quality and customer satisfaction initiatives, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chrysler had the industry’s lowest number of recalls in 2008. We attribute this to a focus on designing and building in quality during previous years. “

“We had a volume challenge out to our dealers, who responded with a solid retail month, providing an increase in retail share year-over-year,” Steven Landry, Executive Vice President—North American Sales, Marketing and Mopar Parts and Service, said. “We hit March strong with our Dodge Truck Month and Employee Pricing Plus Plus promotion. Together with our dealers, we kept consumer traffic moving with a singular marketing strategy based on ‘Employee Pricing Plus Plus’ with our advertising efficiently targeted to the same message, and delivering results.”

The company finished the month with 349,612 units of inventory, or an 87-day supply. Inventory is down 17 percent compared with March 2008, when it totaled 423,607 units.

Company officials said they will extend the Employee Pricing Plus Plus Program through April 30. The program offers the employee price to all customers purchasing or leasing a new Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge vehicle. With feedback from dealers, the company is bringing back zero percent financing for 48 months through Chrysler Financial on select products to provide qualified customers with more financing options.

In addition, customers are eligible for cash discounts of as much as $3,500 for 2009 model year vehicles. And to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company’s minivans, customers can add a DVD player on Chrysler Town & Country or Dodge Grand Caravan at no charge.
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