Report: Chrysler, Not Toyota, Off to Worst Start in 2010

Report: Chrysler, Not Toyota, Off to Worst Start in 2010

You’ve likely heard a lot about Toyota’s woes over the past several months and there’s one automaker who couldn’t be happier to be out of the hot-seat – Chrysler. While sales are only down three percent so far this year, over half of Chrysler’s sales have been to fleets, which is never a positive sign and simply kills a car’s resale value.

A member of the Big Three, Chrysler isn’t so big any more, slipping to 7th place in the U.S., when you examine just sales to customers. says consumer sales have dropped 44 percent. Comparatively, Toyota’s consumer sales have dipped just 14 percent, even with a still struggling economy and massive recalls that have smeared the Japanese automaker’s once-good name.

Chrysler representatives are very much aware of their company’s problems but even with new Fiat ownership and leadership, new and updated models will take time to come to market. “We have to rebuild consumers’ confidence in the company,” said a company spokeswoman to CNN Money. “The fact that large companies are willing to buy our vehicles helps rebuild that confidence, so fleet is part our businesses strategy.”

Fleet sales will help sustain Chrysler in the short term, but improved consumer sales are the only viable long-term solution.

The problem appears to be with the brand image, as according to Erich Merkle, president of, even highly-acclaimed vehicles like the new Dodge Ram are suffering, despite winning Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year award.

For Chrysler to change its perception, it will take many long years and quality products, the first of which is expected this year in the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. After that, Chrysler will roll out several updated versions of its most popular models, while a longer-term strategy will have new, possibly Fiat-based, compact and mid-size models hit the market. Also included in the new product plan are several new and more efficient engines.

[Source: CNN]

  • Dave

    What CNN neglects to mention is that ALL OEM’s have come to rely on fleet sales. Remove them and there is quite a bit of convergence in sales totals from company to company. Please don’t use this as a smokescreen (as CNN would wish)to cover the now apparent shortcomings of Toyota and the dangers they have presented to the driving public.

  • matt

    At least Chryslers aren’t accelerating when you don’t want them to and killing people in the process…..Fleet sales are not the sole domain of Chrysler. I’ve seen many other brands including the most holy Toyota in rental lots….

  • James

    Hey, read the five year plan if you are going to write about Chrysler’s future. Don’t speculate, do research, that is the job of a journalist. It is an exciting time for Dodge fans, Mr.Sergio Marchionne, Fiat’s CEO, looks to be the next generation Mr.Lee Iacocca and revitalive a struggling Chrysler Corporation, with small Fiats being sold as Chryslers in North America and bigger Chrysler cars being sold as Fiats in Europe. The legacy engines are being mostly phased out in the five years and new engines being used that have better break horsepower, torque and fuel economy for the same displacement. I for one as a Dodge fan can not wait, the German Daimler company, went to cheap with Chrysler and therfore the brand suffered.