SUVs so Hot That Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200 May Never Return
Earlier this year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles updated its five-year plan, with the Italian-American carmaker focusing more heavily on trucks and SUVs.
Two casualties of this truck fever were the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne previously said the company would attempt to outsource manufacturing of these models to another carmaker — but even that plan may not go through.
Marchionne has been unable to persuade another manufacturer to build the Dart and 200, according to Automotive News (subscription required).
That means both models may die for good when FCA stops building them later this year.
Dart production will end in September so FCA can use the assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois, to build the Jeep Cherokee crossover.
Production of the 200 will end in December, and its Sterling Heights, Michigan plant will be retooled to build the next generation of Ram 1500 full-size pickup truck, says Automotive News.
FCA is eager to convert manufacturing capacity previously devoted to sedans to pickups and SUVs because low gas prices have caused sales of these models to skyrocket.
The company can’t meet demand for either the Cherokee or Ram 1500, but it has had to offer heavy incentives to move the Dart and 200 off dealer lots.
FCA now apparently expects this trend to continue for at least the next few years.
Exacerbating the challenge is that neither the Dart nor the 200 are particularly competitive in their segments, despite both being fairly new models.
The Dart is the older of the two, having debuted for the 2013 model year to generally lukewarm reviews as the first product of the combined Fiat and Chrysler companies.
The 200 launched as a 2015 model to somewhat more positive reviews, though it was still criticized for a lack of rear-seat room and a balky nine-speed automatic transmission.
FCA’s decision to kill off the Dart and 200 leaves both Dodge and Chrysler with fairly sparse lineups, mostly composed of aging and low-volume models.
Chrysler will soldier on with just two models: the aged 300 sedan and the redesigned 2017 Pacifica minivan (a replacement for the outgoing Town & Country).
Dodge will continue with the equally old Charger sedan and Challenger coupe, as well as the Durango SUV, Journey crossover, and Caravan minivan.
The latter is set to be discontinued shortly as well.