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Market Insight: Chrysler muscles up the sales ladder

Breaking good: Chrysler’s 300 is powering along at best-ever sales levels since it was introduced in Australia as the 300C in 2005.

Chrysler 300 gives American brand a leg up in Australia at expense of Holden Caprice


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29 Oct 2013

SALES of Chrysler’s politically incorrect 300 large sedan are running at record levels in Australia, giving rival manufacturer General Motors just one more factor to mull as it considers the future of Holden as a local manufacturer.

Fiat Chrysler Group sold 350 of the Canadian-built limos here this September, up more than 100 per cent on the corresponding month last year.

Helped by a relatively strong Australian dollar, aggressive pricing policy and a broad eight-model line-up with choice of three powertrains, the 300 – the car of choice for television’s illegal drug merchant Walter White in Breaking Bad – is headed for its best year since arriving in Australia as the 300C in 2005.

Priced from a handy $43,000 driveaway for the base V6 variant, the 15-month-old 300 is averaging 217 sales a month this year, compared with 76 sales a month for the only other car in the VFACTS upper-large category (up to $100,000), the locally built Holden Caprice.

The average monthly sales tally for the Chrysler 300 this year is equivalent to the best month for the 300C – 216 sales in November 2010 – before it went to the big car showroom in the sky in 2011.

Chrysler and its Australian dealer network had to endure a stock drought of almost a year between 300 generations before the new 300 arrived in May 2012, shooting to segment leadership in just its second month on the market.

Long-time segment leader Holden Caprice has since played second fiddle to the big Chrysler, but recently received a fillip in parallel with the arrival of the new VF Commodore, drawing some new technologies and styling modifications from the short-wheelbase car on which it is based.

The 184 Caprice sales in September represented a 98 per cent increase over the same month last year and its best month of 2013. Year to date, however, local Caprice sales are down 41 per cent on last year.

At $43,000, the price of entry to the Chrysler 300 range is $11,000 cheaper than the most affordable Caprice, which starts with the fleet-friendly LPG-powered model – now the only V6 variant in the range – at $54,490 (plus on-road costs).

The 6.0-litre V8 Caprice is priced from $59,990, splitting the Chrysler 300’s twin V8 models, the $56,000 SRT8 Core – a stripped out performance version priced to escape the luxury car tax – and the flagship $66,000 SRT8.

Apart from Caprice, the imported Chrysler 300 also competes with some Commodore variants, especially the big-bore V8 Holden Special Vehicle hot shop models that have also just benefited from the arrival of the new VF, in the form of the HSV F-Series range that starts at $62,990 for the 6.2-litre ClubSport.

As HSV sales are not broken out from general Commodore sales figures in official public VFACTS sales data, it is difficult to compare apples with apples in the muscle car sales arena.

The arrival of the new HSV range is likely to have triggered renewed interest in the Chrysler 300, bringing new buyers into the market to the benefit of all players.

Chrysler, which has been teamed with Fiat since hitting the financial wall in the global financial crisis, offers just two model lines in Australia – the 300 sedan and Voyager people-mover – having rid itself of slow-moving models such as the PT Cruiser and Sebring.

Bearing in mind that Chrysler was without 300 for several months in Australia last year, overall Chrysler sales are up 302 per cent in the nine months to the end of September, with Voyager contributing 132 units to the brand tally of 2096.

If we include the Dodge Journey’s 1185 units and Jeep’s 15,779 sales, America’s third biggest car-maker has sold more than 19,000 units in Australia this year, putting it in a similar league to BMW and Mercedes-Benz, in volume at least.

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