FCA Prepares To Kill Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200
Decline in sales and shifting consumer demand triggered FCA’s decision to cut ties with both modelsby Kirby, on
Fiat-Chrysler is embarking on a new adventure as part of an updated five-year business plan that CEO Sergio Marchionne outlined in a recent presentation with investors. As with most updates of this type, changes have been made in the direction of the company and two models, the Dodge Dart and the Chrysler 200, have become unwitting casualties.
According to Marchionne, FCA will begin focusing its energy and resources into building more trucks and utility vehicles in response to what he describes as a “permanent shift in demand” in the market. Unfortunately for both the Dart and the 200, the pedestrian sales numbers of both cars made them expendable and with no signs in the horizon of both models improving their appeal to the public. FCA is now preparing its shovels for the two vehicles arguably untimely deaths.
With the Dart and the 200 out of the picture, FCA can realign its facilities to accommodate the production of more Jeep and Ram models. The company’s plants in Illinois where the Dart and the 200 were being built will now be used to increase the production of the Jeep Cherokee and Ram 1500.
It’s an ignominious exit for both models, especially for the Dart, which only returned to the automotive scene in 2012 after not being around since 1976. Dodge even had huge plans for the model at the time of its supposed comeback, even going so far as building numerous race and concept variants. But with the model turning out to be a sales dud, parent company FCA has deemed it – and the 200 – as baggage that it doesn’t want to carry moving forward.
Continue reading for the full story.
Why it matters
It’s always rough whenever an automaker decides to ax a model, let alone two models from two different brands. But such is the current state of the auto industry these days. Since the business is driven by consumer demand and that demand is squarely pointed in the direction of trucks and utility vehicles, there are some sedans and hatchbacks that will be deemed as excess baggage. Unfortunately for both the Dodge Dart and the Chrysler 200, neither model was able to justify its case to FCA.
In fact, it got so bad for the two models that it couldn’t even beat the Jeep Cherokee in sales volume, even when you add the sales numbers for both models and compare it to the Cherokee’s own total. Case in point: in December 2015, Jeep reported selling 24,049 units of the Cherokee. By comparison, Dodge only sold 6,731 units of the Dart in the same month while Chrysler sales report shows that it sold 8,579 units. Combine both sales numbers – 15,310 units – and it falls dramatically short of what the Cherokee accomplished on its own.
Even if you take the sales numbers for the entire year of 2015, the total number of Dart and 200 models that were sold reached 265,281 units, just slightly above the 220,260 units of the Cherokee and well out of reach of the 451,116 sold units of the Ram pickup truck in the same time period.
With the market continuing to shift towards more demand for pickups and SUVs, it was conceivable to believe that sales of both the Dart and the 200 would trend down in the coming years. It already happened in 2015 as the Dart experienced a two percent drop in sales numbers whereas the 200 saw its sales go off a cliff by close, dropping an incredible 47 percent.
It really left FCA with no other choice than to cut the cord on both models. It’s unfortunate for new owners of the Dart and the 200, but such is the case in an industry that relies on consumer demand above everything else.
Read our full review on the Dodge Dart here.
Read our full review on the Chrysler 200 here.
Source: Automotive News