DETROIT, April 2 Chrysler Group said its vehicle
sales in March were the best since December 2007, and estimated
the industry's annual sales rate last month was 15.6 million.
Chrysler, a unit of Italian automaker Fiat SpA,
said March sales totaled 171,606 vehicles, up 5 percent from
163,381 a year earlier. The Fiat, Dodge and Ram Truck brands all
Chrysler's estimate of the industry's seasonally adjusted
annual rate in March is in line with an average SAAR of 15.3
million from a group of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
Chrysler's total includes about 300,000 heavy-duty vehicles,
while the Thomson Reuters poll excluded such vehicles.
Ram Truck sales rose 24 percent in March, reflecting strong
demand for the full-size Ram pickup, which received an extensive
makeover for the 2013 model year.
Dodge sales were up 15 percent, led by double-digit
increases for the Avenger, the Challenger and the Durango.
Sales of the compact Dodge Dart sedan topped 8,000 for the
first time since the car was introduced last summer.
Sales of the Fiat 500 rose 3 percent to 3,807.
Jeep sales dropped 13 percent in March. Chrysler phased out
the Jeep Liberty last fall and won't start ramping up production
of its replacement, the 2014 Cherokee, until this summer. The
automaker also began phasing in production of the 2014 Grand
Cherokee, which has undergone a facelift.
Chrysler brand sales fell 2 percent, with the biggest
decline posted by the full-size Chrysler 300 sedan.