Chrysler Group LLC, moving past costly rollouts of new Ram pickups and Jeep sport-utility vehicles, said production rebounded in April for the No. 3 U.S. automaker’s first monthly increase since November.
Chrysler’s North American output rose 13 percent to 216,758 cars, SUVs and trucks, from 192,491 a year earlier, the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company said on its website. Production in April was the highest since Fiat SpA-controlled Chrysler built 220,101 vehicles in August.
Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler and Fiat, is relying on Chrysler and its 37 straight monthly U.S. sales gains, to offset losses at Turin, Italy-based Fiat’s mass-market brands in Europe. Rising production should help Chrysler rebound from a 65 percent decline in first-quarter profit, which was dragged down by introductions of the new Ram Heavy Duty truck and Jeep Grand Cherokee and Compass SUVs. Automakers record revenue when vehicles are shipped to dealers.
“The best way to look at this is a one-time event, it’s a one-off; just close your eyes, plug your nose and move it on from here,” Marchionne told analysts on an April 29 conference call.
Chrysler earlier this week said its April U.S. sales rose 11 percent, topping the 10 percent increase that was the average of 11 analysts’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey. Chrysler’s share of the U.S. market has risen for three straight years, to 11.4 percent in 2012, according to researcher Autodata Corp.
Chrysler “needed to refill the distribution channel” for Grand Cherokee and the Ram Heavy Duty, Richard Hilgert, an analyst for Morningstar Equity Research in Chicago, said in an e-mail. “I’m more concerned with how much the production matches demand.”
For the first four months of the year, Chrysler’s production fell 1.3 percent to 785,663 vehicles, according to the statement on the company website.
First-quarter net income slid to $166 million from $473 million a year earlier. Chrysler held to its forecast for annual revenue of $72 billion to $75 billion and net income of about $2.2 billion.