The Chrysler 200 passed the Ford Fusion to become the best-selling car in metro Toledo last year, helping Chrysler Group strengthen its hold on the Toledo-area market.
More than a quarter of new cars sold last year to buyers in Fulton, Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood counties were Chrysler Group products, according to registration data compiled by AutoView Online. Chrysler Group includes Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat.
The group’s 25.2 percent market share is way above Chrysler’s national market share, which according to Wards Auto was 11.2 percent last year.
A big reason for that is Chrysler Group’s presence in Toledo. Chrysler directly employs more than 3,000 people in metro Toledo and supports more jobs at suppliers.
“People tend to support relatively larger sales of the locally produced product,” said Paul Taylor, chief economist of the National Automobile Dealers Association. “That’s true through many production areas of the Midwest.”
Some of that’s pride, and some of it is price.
“It’s not only that the employees like the brands they build, but the attractive pricing to employees help increase sales as well,” Mr. Taylor said.
Though the Toledo-made Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Liberty didn’t crack the area top 10, both still did well, outselling the Nissan Altima and Toyota Corolla, vehicles that were among the top 10 nationally.
“I give big credit to the Chrysler employees, their friends, family,” said Denny Amrhein, managing partner at Grogan’s Towne Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. “The loyalty in Toledo is unbelievable.”
Beyond just Chrysler, local buyers are loyal to domestic automakers in general.
General Motors’ share slipped to 19.7 percent from 21.1 percent last year, but remained second. Ford Motor Co. also lost some market share, finishing 2012 at 18.1 percent versus 19.7 percent last year, but remained in third place.
Nationally, six of the top 10 best-selling vehicles are from foreign automakers. In Toledo, only two vehicles from a foreign manufacturer made the top 10 — the Honda CR-V at No. 9 and the Honda Civic at No. 10.
Considering both the four-county area’s location and the number of area jobs supported by the Detroit Three, that’s not surprising, Mr. Taylor said.
“In the midsection of the country, the interest is higher in ‘Was this car produced in North America?’ than it’s likely to be on both coasts,” he said.
The brand that apparently suffers most from the local feeling is Toyota. The Japanese company had a market share of about 14 percent nationally, but only about 7.5 percent of local new car sales were Toyotas.
Beyond wanting to buy American, consumers generally like to support whatever brands support jobs where they are. Many Central Ohio buyers, for example, prefer Honda, which employs thousands of people throughout that region.
Ford was the top individual brand in metro Toledo, producing four of the top 10 selling vehicles: the Fusion at No. 2, the Escape at No. 3, the F-150 at No. 5, and the Focus at No. 7.
But the Blue Oval couldn’t retain the top spot.
Sales of the Chrysler 200 grew by 27 percent in metro Toledo, while Fusion sales fell 23 percent. The Chrysler 200 starts at about $19,000.
Rachellyn Marsh looked at the Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen Jetta, and Dodge Avenger, but ultimately bought a black Chrysler 200 Limited in November.
“They just weren't ‘me,’” she said of the other cars. “I didn't feel the comfort level that I feel when I get into my 200.”
Buying an American-made vehicle was important to Ms. Marsh, who lives in Toledo, but she said the 200 also sold her with its upscale feel.
“I love how every time I get into my car I feel like I am sitting in a luxury vehicle, from my heated leather seats to my automatic start and sunroof,” she said.
The Ford F-150, the long-running sales king of pickups in the United States, was also upset from its top spot locally among pickups in 2012.
AutoView said the Ram 1500 outsold the F-150 by 33 vehicles.
Separate data from the Toledo Automobile Dealers Association, however, showed dealers in Lucas and Wood counties sold more F-series trucks than they did any other brand’s trucks — and any other vehicle for that matter. The Chrysler 200 was second.
The dealers’ association data reports sales to any buyers by dealers in Lucas and Wood counties, while AutoView tracks all sales to buyers living in the four-county area.
Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6134.