Fiat-Chrysler Sales Drop in U.S. Amid Industry-Wide Decline

We clearly didn't buy enough Hellcats.

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For the seventh month in a row, Fiat-Chrysler's U.S. sales were flagged as the company reported a nearly 5 percent drop in March and an 8.4 percent decline in the overall number of cars sold in the first three months of the year compared to 2016. The company makes some of the most enthusiast-oriented cars on the market, but all the Hellcats in the world apparently aren't enough to give its struggling portfolio of brands a boost in a month that saw more than a few disappointed manufacturers as the industry's red-hot pace over the last two years starts to cool off a bit.

Digging into the numbers, it's clear that CEO Sergio Marchionne's focus on large crossovers and trucks means FCA basically lives and dies by the Jeep brand in this country. With Jeep's performance down by 11 percent—thanks to plummeting interest in the outgoing Patriot and Compass and people looking ahead to the next Wrangler—even an incredibly strong month by Dodge and a 100 percent increase in Journey sales couldn't keep the whole team in the black.

The company's namesake brands are also in a little trouble, with Fiat off 5 percent and Chrysler plunging 33 percent, compared to March last year. Part of that latter number comes from the death of the 200 sedan, but the reborn Pacifica has yet to replicate the volume once produced by the Town & Country. The regular Fiat 500 actually gained a few sales, but consumers aren't exactly flocking to its X and L variants.

It's not all bad news, of course. Aside from Dodge, people are still digging the RAM brand, and Alfa Romeo sales skyrocketed 1191 percent, thanks to the launch of the new Giulia. And Maserati sales rose as well, though it's possible not all those customers are entirely satisfied. We'll see how much the highly-anticipated launch of the Dodge Demon can move the needle for FCA in the months ahead.