Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Sales As Mixed As Its Italian-American Heritage

While Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sails toward a 72 consecutive month streak of sales increases the news from the big Italian American car family is as mixed as its heritage.

On the plus side high margin Jeep and Ram Truck sales are up 23% and 27% respectively delivering high margin and legacy brand sales. The Dodge Challenger muscle car, Grand Caravan minivan and Durango SUV are also seeing double digits sales bumps..

On the down side the FIAT brand is still struggling in America with its 500 series mini-car. The unofficial goal to consistently break 50,000 unit sales a year in the US has been a challenge, though they have hit that number since the 2011 introduction and they got close last year thanks to the boost from the new 500X … the bulked up AWD 4 door SUV style model that was designed for the American market.

A sign of the challenges that FCA is facing with its Italian parent brand in the US was a major change the company recently made allowing FIAT and now Alfa Romeo models to be sold in non-exclusive dealerships. That means that FCA dealers with FIAT franchises will be able to sell them along side the US models. This represents a huge overhead reduction for the dealers and the opportunity for traditional American car buyers to see the Italian models up close.

Perhaps the most interesting news swirling around FCA is mercurial Chairman Sergio Marchionne recently publicly courting Silicon Valley and specifically Apple for a potential partnership.

At the Geneva Auto show last month he was widely quoted describing himself as an “Apple freak” and expounding on the potential of a partnership between tech and auto giants. This comes after a year of reports of Marchionne being rebuffed by General Motors boss Mary Barra on discussions of a merger between the two auto companies.

With the convergence of automotive — and the success of the tech based Tesla car company — and high tech, the Apple – FCA pairing doesn’t seem that far-fetched.