Chrysler has a tendency to fall below water and pull itself up again right before it drowns in an ever-spectacular fashion. It’s happened multiple times throughout the past three decades, with each instance being capped by grandeur and huge fanfare.
Here’s your dose of it for second decade of the 21st century—a $473 million dose, in fact. That’s more than four times the profit generated by Chrysler over the first quarter of last year. So how did the automaker pull it off? Retail sales.
Chrysler increased its car and truck sales 39 percent over over the first quarter in 2012, led by the Chrysler 300 (up 271 percent), the Chrysler 200 (up 220 percent), the Dodge Charger (up 57 percent), and the Jeep Grand Cherokee (up 44 percent) in the U.S. Its fleet mix—commercial, rental, and government vehicles—stayed a consistent 31 percent of its sales.
Chrysler Canada led a similarly aggressive charge, accounting for 15 percent of all vehicles sold in Canada last quarter—the highest of any automaker. Again, its top three sellers were the Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300, and Dodge Charger.
But that’s not to say the rest of the company isn’t pulling its own weight. Worldwide, the Jeep brand is up 46 percent, Chrysler is up 38 percent, Dodge is up 19 percent, Ram is up 16 percent, and Fiat is up 10 percent. That doesn’t even account for Fiat’s other brands like Lancia, commercial Iveco, and Alfa Romeo that aren’t sold in the U.S., as well as Ferrari and Maserati. All told, the company’s sales were up 33 percent worldwide over the first quarter of 2011.
“Another positive quarter—built on sales gains that have surpassed the industry average—is affirmation that the Chrysler team is maintaining its focus,” said CEO Sergio Marchionne in a statement. “We continue to deliver on the targets in our five-year plan and are now focused on successfully launching the Dodge Dart, a car that is a true melding of Chrysler’s and Fiat’s engineering and styling strengths.”
When asked if Chrysler can keep up the momentum, Marchionne kept his comments brief: “I have really no bad news to tell you.” I’m sure his fans—and employees—are hoping he’ll be able to say that for a long time to come.