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Published: Tuesday, 12/3/2013 - Updated: 11 months ago

Cherokee sales drive Jeep’s best-ever Nov.

New vehicle helps brand push Chrysler Group to a 16% gain

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Mechanic Joe Ziegler prepares a 2014 Cherokee for the sales lot at Yark Jeep in Toledo. Mechanic Joe Ziegler prepares a 2014 Cherokee for the sales lot at Yark Jeep in Toledo.
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Jeep sold more than 10,000 Cherokees in the first full sales month for the new vehicle, helping the brand to its best-ever November in terms of sales.

“Our all-new Jeep Cherokee is off to a terrific start with more than 10,169 units sold in its first full month on sale,” Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Chrysler Group LLC, said in a statement. “Our launch emphasis on Jeep Cherokee quality is now being rewarded with brisk sales and helping Chrysler Group achieve our 44th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth.”

Chrysler held back the Toledo-made Cherokee for several weeks while engineers tinkered with the Jeep’s transmission programming. The delays irked some buyers and dealers, but analysts overwhelmingly said Jeep did the right thing in not releasing the Cherokee until they felt it was absolutely ready.

Sales finally began in late October, but many dealers didn’t receive the vehicle until November. Chrysler says its dealers are continuing to receive greater numbers of the vehicle.

Tom Libby, lead North American analyst for the Polk automotive research firm, said the Cherokee’s performance in its first full month was impressive, but he also cautioned that some of the sales recorded in November may actually have been from orders placed earlier this fall.

“It’s an impressive first month. However, there’s been a long period during which there’s been the opportunity for demand to grow,” Mr. Libby said. “It’s going to be necessary to wait several more months to get a gauge on actual, natural retail demand. But I will say, on the surface it’s a strong month.”

The Cherokee was Jeep’s third-best selling model, behind the Grand Cherokee and the Toledo-built Wrangler. Chrysler said the Wrangler’s 11,753 sales were a November record. The Jeep Patriot also had a record November with 5,148 sold.

In all, Jeep sold 45,415 units, helping push Chrysler Group LLC to 142,275 sales, a 16 percent gain from last year.

The month also was good to General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. GM posted a 14 percent gain from last year, while Ford sales were up 7 percent.

Both companies were helped by continuing demand for pickup trucks, though small and midsize cars sold well, too.

Chevrolet Cruze sales were up 8 percent to 18,200, while Chevy Malibu sales rose 41 percent to 14,405.

“We feel good about the direction of the economy and our own momentum,” Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president, U.S. sales operations, said in a statement. “The economy is creating jobs and household wealth. Energy costs are dropping and credit is available and affordable. All of this bodes well for future growth.”

Ford had gains in some of its smallest and largest vehicles.

“Fusion and Fiesta were particular standouts, setting November records, and Ford trucks maintained their strong selling pace,” John Felice, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service, said.

The company said November was the seventh straight month that sales of its F-series trucks topped 60,000 units.

Nissan and Kia sales were up 11 percent. Toyota was up 10 percent, while Hyundai sales were up 5 percent. Honda sales were essentially flat, while Volkswagen sales fell 16 percent.

Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, said sales picked up after Thanksgiving, setting the best pace yet this year.

"Showroom traffic surged over the holiday weekend for Toyota, indicating good momentum that we expect to continue through the end of the year and into 2014,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Libby, of Polk, said the industry appears to have recovered from a down month in October. He expects a strong finish to the year.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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