Stellantis first sales gain in two years, aims for momentum

Chris Glenn, Stellantis’ vice president of US dealer relations and retail strategies, said the plan is to maintain an “aggressive nature at retail, stay close to our business center, stay close to our dealers, communicate out our plans.

“We just launched this month a 60-day retail campaign, which will be carried and supported at Tier 1 and Tier 2,” Glenn told Automotive News. “We’re not taking our foot off the gas on the retail side.”

After that 60-day promotion, Glenn said the company will transition to another sales event in the fall and is formulating a plan to close the year strong.

Sales by Jeep, Stellantis’ biggest brand, slipped 2.9 percent, marking its eighth straight quarterly decline. Although the brand was down overall, the Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid had its best quarter as deliveries jumped 56 percent from a year earlier. Total volume of the Wrangler, Jeep’s No. 2 seller after the Grand Cherokee, dropped 13 percent.

The Wrangler 4xe is America’s best-selling plug-in hybrid, followed by the Grand Cherokee 4xe at No. 2. Sales of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, No. 4 among plug-ins, more than doubled in the quarter.

Like much of the industry, Stellantis has battled headwinds in recent years. Glenn said production disruptions and logistics concerns “make it a challenge when you’re looking at quarter over quarter and month over month. Those kinds of things can make a difference.”

The idling of the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, which built the Jeep Cherokee, has left a void. Cherokee sales were down 35 percent in the second quarter.

“That exit of the D-segment is a lot,” Glenn said. “There’s a lot of volume on a month-by-month basis so from a sales guy’s point of view, that makes it a little bit tough.”

In the first half of the year, Stellantis’ US sales were down 1.3 percent, vs. a double-digit increase for the overall industry, according to the automakers who have reported so far. Getting enough inventory to dealers will be key to achieving gains in the second half.

“The demand for the product remains strong,” Glenn said. “On the retail side, the dealers are looking for cars. They’re ordering everything they can get their hands on. They’re ready to compete in the marketplace.

“On the fleet side, we’ve got strong demand for orders from our commercial customers, our fleet customers, so we’re feeling pretty good about the demand for our product.”