A Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) sign at its U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills Michigan. Photo; Reuters.

INTERNATIONAL – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Thursday reported a 15.7 percent rise in U.S. auto sales for October, helped by higher demand for its Jeep sport utility vehicles and Ram pick-up trucks.

The automaker said it sold 177,391 vehicles last month, compared with 153,373 units a year earlier, when sales were inflated by vehicle replacement demand in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Recently,  Fiat Chrysler said that it had kicked-off preparations for the production of a plug-in hybrid version of the Jeep Renegade as the carmaker pushes ahead with its electrification drive to meet tougher emissions rules.

The world’s seventh-largest carmaker said in June it would invest €9 billion (R153bn) in electric and hybrid cars over the next five years to become fully compliant with emissions regulations across regions.

It also pledged to phase out diesel engines in European passenger cars by 2021.

The Jeep Renegade plug-in hybrid, expected in the market in early 2020, will be produced at FCA’s Melfi plant in southern Italy, which is already churning out the combustion engine version of the model and the Fiat 500X crossover, FCA said.