Jeep Boss Had Sales Humming Before Replacing CEO Marchionne

(Bloomberg) -- A quick scan of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s latest sales results illustrates why Mike Manley just slid into the driver’s seat at the Italian-American carmaker.

Sales of Jeep sport utility vehicles climbed 15 percent last month, paced by soaring demand for Cherokee and Compass models. Before Sergio Marchionne’s failing health spurred Manley’s hasty ascension to succeed him as chief executive officer last month, the Brit was running the division for nine years.

Fiat Chrysler will stand out as one of few major automakers to post positive numbers for July. Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. all reported declines as American consumers continued to shun sedans -- including perennial best-sellers like the Camry and Accord -- in favor of crossovers and big SUVs.

Jeep Boss Had Sales Humming Before Replacing CEO Marchionne

“Jeep and Ram continue to show strong sales, with consumers rewarding fresh product developed under the tutelage of new FCA CEO Mike Manley,” Rebecca Lindland, an executive analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said in an email. “But it’s not without some cash on the hood: Jeep and Ram are both offering rich incentives to owners of competitive vehicles, a common enough tactic in today’s highly competitive environment.”

With carmakers dialing back on discounts, analysts were projecting industrywide deliveries slowed to an annualized pace of about 16.7 million cars and light trucks in July. The rate, which is adjusted for seasonal trends, was 16.8 million a year earlier and 17.5 million in June.

Ford’s sales team is even gloomier about how the month panned out. The second-largest U.S. automaker estimated an industry selling pace of 16.3 million vehicles, including medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

The Wrangler helped Jeep buck the industry slide last month, with sales up 14 percent to 21,308. Deliveries of the Cherokee jumped 71 percent while the Compass gained a whopping 63 percent. Ram pickup line was up 1.4 percent to 40,276 units in July.

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