DETROIT — Chrysler followed its strong first-quarter sales with a big profit, sending its 2009 brush with financial death farther into the rearview mirror.
The Auburn Hills, Mich., company made a net profit of $473 million, its best quarter in 13 years, mainly on the back of strong U.S. sales. From January through March, Chrysler’s sales were up 39 percent as customers bought more Ram pickups, Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Chrysler 200 midsize sedans.
Not bad for a company that almost died three years ago. A government auto task force deadlocked on whether to save the company in 2009, with the tie broken by President Barack Obama.
Chrysler’s first-quarter profit was more than four times the $116 million that the company made in the first quarter of last year. It was Chrysler’s best performance since the third quarter of 1998 when it made $682 million during the pickup truck and SUV boom.
Chrysler made more in the first quarter than it did during all of 2011, mainly because of a huge accounting charge last year for refinancing and the government loans that saved it from the auction house.