FCA Looking For Partner To Build Dart And 200 Sedan
Fresh hope for FCA’s sedansby Ciprian Florea, on
In January 2016, FCA’s Sergio Marchionne announced that both the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 will be axed, as the company is looking to focus its resources to building more trucks and SUVs. You know, the kind of vehicles that bring bigger profits. The decision was far from surprising in the case of the Dart, a slow-selling car that has lost its appeal years ago, but unexpected for the 200. Sure, sales have declined shortly after the sedan went into production, but unlike the Dart, the 200 has received an extensive makeover for the 2015 model year. One that Chrysler was very proud of, being described as the car that "lays the groundwork for the future of the brand" and a model to become the "new benchmark for midsize sedans."
Two months have passed and it appears that Marchionne changed his mind about both vehicles and the brand is looking for a partner "who is better at it than we are and who has got capacity available" to continue building the Dart and 200. In other words, FCA wants to have the sedans built in another company’s facility, just like Mercedes-Benz has the G-Class manufactured by Magna Steyr in Austria and Toyota has the Scion iA made by Mazda in Mexico.
"There are discussions going on now," Marchionne said at the Geneva Motor Show. "I think we will find a solution. We continue to talk. It’s both a technical solution and an economic one. We need to find a solution that works economically."
If this happens, the Dart and 200 won’t be the first FCA vehicles to be built by partners. The Miata-based Fiat 124 Spider is assembled by Mazda, while the ProMaster City van is manufactured in a join-venture plant in Turkey shared with its Fiat-badged Doblo twin.
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Why it matters
Although it’s great to hear that the Dart and 200 might survive after all, Marchionne’s statement is not yet reason to celebrate. Finding an economic solution for these vehicles might be tricky if they’re outside the U.S. Also, the fact that Dart and 200 sales combined are only a tad higher than the Jeep Cherokee’s in 2015 could prompt FCA to drop these plans if a partner doesn’t come up soon. With the market continuing to shift toward more demand for crossovers and SUVs, and with both the Dart and 200 falling short of their primary competitors sales-wise, there isn’t much hope for either nameplate unless FCA finds a solid strategy for them. We’ll have to wait to find out if and with whom FCA strikes up the manufacturing deal for its sedans.
Read our full review on the Dodge Dart here.
Read our full review on the Chrysler 200 here.