Fiat Chrysler Automobiles denies it's decided to pull the plug on the Chrysler brand in Japan, after local media reported it was planning to stop selling the U.S. cars there as early as next year, following years of poor sales. David Pollard reports.
There is, says Fiat Chrysler, no reversing its Chrysler brand out of Japan. The carmaker reported as planning to withdraw - after fewer than 300 Chrysler vehicles were sold there last year in a decade and a half of falling sales. It says that although it will concentrate on its Jeep brand ahead, for Chrysler "no decisions" had been made. SOUNDBITE (English) OANDA SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, CRAIG ERLAM, SAYING: "Quite frankly the sales numbers in 2016 were quite embarrassing. The fact that this is a long-standing trend rather than a sudden blip in sales, suggest to me that there just isn't any desire. This has become a very unpopular brand, and to be honest the umbrella company has a lot more of the brands which are doing much better in which we see improving sales." Both Fiat and Jeep have been picking up in Japan. Last year, selling around 16 thousand vehicles between them. Chrysler markets just one model there: the luxury 300s, through its Jeep dealerships. SOUNDBITE (English) OANDA SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, CRAIG ERLAM, SAYING: "The Japanese market is known for favouring more domestic producers and therefore it's challenging enough environment as it is. So why pursue something that's just clearly so unpopular when you have other alternatives at your disposal?" Last year, just under 300,000 foreign branded new cars were sold in Japan. One tenth of total vehicle sales.