Chrysler's U.S. Sales Drop 44% in February

But company did win top spot in Canada for first time in 84 years

While Chrysler reported a 44% drop in U.S. sales, it said that its share of the retail market rose significantly and expressed hope that its position would continue to improve in March.

Chrysler attributed a large part of its losses to planned reductions in low-margin fleet sales and said its retail sales, which fell 26% compared with February of 2008, significantly outperformed the overall U.S. retail market which is expected to fall about 42% from year-ago levels.

"We see our retail number as a shining light of positive news," said Chrysler president and vice chairman Jim Press. By working together with our strong dealer body, we will continue to move the needle on sales and service."

Chrysler announced plans to introduce new incentives in March to supplement major discounts already on offer, including employee pricing, cash back of up to $6,000 and zero percent financing.

February sales of 84,050 vehicles were also significantly higher than the 62,157 units sold in January.

Chrysler told the U.S. Treasury last month that it will not be able to survive the current downturn without an additional five billion dollars in government loans on top of the four billion dollar it has already received.

"During this important historical time, we are making strong progress as we move forward with our stakeholders to continue the restructuring of our company," Press said. We have a special bond with the American people now and pledge to continue our efforts to deliver the best quality, better fuel efficiency and the best value in the marketplace."

Chrysler also celebrated winning the top spot in sales for the Canadian market for the first time in its 84 year history even as its February sales fell 27% to 12,015 vehicles. "Our position as the No. 1 automaker this month clearly demonstrates the continued confidence Canadians have in Chrysler vehicles and in the company's future," said Reid Bigland, President and CEO - Chrysler Canada. "There is no question that the current economic and automotive environment is challenging for all companies. However, it is times such as these where great value and great products can truly dominate."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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