The Toledo-made Jeep Liberty ended the year with nearly 107,000 in sales worldwide after eight months on the market, but the sport-utility vehicle's U.S. numbers have slipped since their October high.
DaimlerChrysler AG's U.S. group, meanwhile, had a 10 percent drop in its annual sales nationwide, to less than 2.3 million vehicles, even after offering zero percent financing on many cars and light trucks for the past few months. The Chrysler unit's December sales, though, were up 6 percent nationwide compared to the year before with 178,001 vehicles, the automaker reported yesterday.
Special financing was not offered on the all-new Liberty, which had sales of 12,763 last month, down from 14,670 in November and 15,993 in October. Nationwide, 88,485 Libertys were sold last year.
The Liberty sold at a steady, desirable pace and performed well against its competitors, a Chrysler unit executive said yesterday. The compact SUV has a 54-day supply, which is a little below ideal, and putting zero percent finacing on it would have killed inventory, said Gary Dilts, senior vice president of sales.
"Liberty at 12,700 is still moving at a pretty hard basis," he told reporters during a conference call. "Liberty is delivering without anything."
Annual sales for the other Toledo-built Jeep, the Wrangler, were down 16 percent from 2000 at 68,830, although December numbers were up 7 percent from the month a year before with 4,860. Overall, U.S. sales for the Toledo-born Jeep brand - including the Detroit-made Grand Cherokee and some of the last Toledo-built Cherokees - were down 8 percent last year to 455,417 but up 4 percent for December.
Sales of the Grand Cherokee got a boost from the zero percent financing, said Ron Szegedi, a Jeep salesman at Perrysburg's Ed Schmidt Auto Group. The Grand Cherokee had a 3 percent sales increase in December from the year before to 21,096, although annual sales were down 18 percent to 223,612.