DETROIT -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted record $1.67 billion earnings before interest and taxes in the first quarter, up 11 percent over the same period in 2016, benefiting from the ongoing shift from cars toward utility vehicles and pickups.
The automaker posted adjusted earnings in North America of $1.35 billion and said its North American profit margin rose to 7.3 percent, up slightly from a year ago.
The gains came even as shipments dropped 6 percent amid the phaseout of the Dodge Dart compact and Chrysler 200 sedan and the ramp-up of the new Jeep Compass SUV.
In comments to analysts, CEO Sergio Marchionne said FCA hoped to get past ongoing diesel emissions issues in the U.S. and Europe soon. Those issues have delayed certification of the 2017 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel models in the U.S.
Marchionne also confirmed that FCA will continue to build the current versions of the Ram 1500 and Jeep Wrangler into 2018, even after their redesigned successor versions debut. The CEO said the current Ram 1500 would likely continue to be built throughout most of 2018, while the current generation Wrangler would live into the first half of next year.