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Fiat Chrysler's U.S. Auto Sales Tumbled 17.4% in Covid-Ravaged 2020

Mack Hogan | CNBC
  • Fiat Chrysler reported its U.S. sales were down 17.4% last year compared with 2019, including a 7.9% slide in the fourth quarter.
  • That's worse than the rest of the industry, which is expected to report a 15% drop in sales last year due to the coronavirus pandemic once all automakers release their sales results.
  • There were few bright spots for Fiat Chrysler's sales in 2020 aside from an Alfa Romeo crossover and Jeep Gladiator pickup.

Fiat Chrysler narrowed its sales losses in the fourth quarter but not enough to avoid what is expected to be one of the worst declines in the auto industry for 2020.

The Italian-American automaker's U.S. sales tumbled 17.4% last year compared with 2019, the company said Tuesday. Sales weren't quite as bad in the fourth quarter, falling 7.9% compared with the same time in 2019. That's worse than the rest of the industry, which is expected to report a 15% drop in sales last year due to the coronavirus pandemic once all automakers release their sales results.

Fiat Chrysler's largest crosstown rival, General Motors, earlier in the day reported an 11.8% decline in its sales for 2020, while Ford Motor is expected to report its sales Wednesday morning. Toyota Motor reported its U.S. sales declined 11.2% last year compared with 2019, while Nissan Motor said its sales cratered 33.2%.

Fiat Chrysler said its sales decline was largely due to lower sales to commercial fleet customers. Fourth-quarter sales to retail customers actually rose a bit, by 1%. The company declined to release its retail sales or fleet sales for the year.

There were few bright spots for Fiat Chrysler's sales in 2020. Its niche Italian luxury brand Alfa Romeo was the only division to report an increase for the year, up 1.6%. Aside from an 8.9% increase for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio crossover and nearly doubling sales of the Jeep Gladiator pickup, every other vehicle in the automaker's six-brand lineup was down for the year. Sales of its highly important Ram pickup ended last year down 11.1% compared with 2019.

"The fourth quarter provided a strong springboard heading into 2021. Looking ahead, we anticipate an exciting year that will include a variety of new vehicles," Jeff Kommor, Fiat Chrysler's head of U.S. sales, said in a release.

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