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Sales of Toledo-made SUVs plunge

Chrysler LLC reported yesterday that sales of the three Toledo-made sport utility vehicles in its lineup dropped significantly from the same period a year ago as consumers deal with rocketing gas prices and tightening credit.

Sales of the iconic Jeep Wrangler - buoyed last year by the introduction of a first-ever four-door model - fell 19 percent in April to 8,699 units, and were off 28 percent, at 30,513, for the year, the company said.

Sales of the Jeep Liberty fell 30 percent in April to 6,642 units and 12 percent to 29,689 from 33,906 last year. The third local vehicle, the Dodge Nitro, slipped 41 percent to 3,299 units for the month and 26 percent to 18,654 for the year.

Dave Doster, Jeep sales manager at Yark Automotive Group, said his dealership had an uptick in interest in the Wrangler, but a bigger swing in customers concerned with fuel efficiency.

"We got kind of a shift to better-mileage vehicles. We've got more interest in the four-cylinder Jeeps now," such as the Patriot and Compass, Mr. Doster said.

The declines, while not unexpected by analysts, were across the industry. Gasoline costs, averaging $3.62 a gallon nationally, and a slowing U.S. economy may make the second quarter the year's worst, executives said

At Chrysler, the decrease in sales for Liberty, Wrangler, and Nitro was attributed to the firm's decision to limit less-profitable fleet sales to rental companies and other such businesses.

Article Link: -- Sales of Toledo-made SUVs plunge
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