The folks over at Allpar are concerned about Dart sales. The initial batch of Darts were released as “Rally” models with manual transmissions for about $23,000 — and apparently, one of the Allpar reader’s dealers has an ADP sticker on top of that! The Darts don’t seem to be selling. Not for $23,000, and not with a manual transmission.
Now the Wall Street Journal is chiming in.
“Too Many Stick Shifts Hurt Dodge Dart Sales” they say, and for proof they offer the statistic that 974 Darts found homes in June and July. That’s equivalent to 6,000 a year, which would be great volume for the Lamborghini Aventador but in the compact-car arena is a bit slow.
One dealer complained to the WSJ that people just don’t buy manual-transmission cars. There was much hue and cry about the fact that Dodge was planning to sell 20% of Darts with a clutch pedal, but let’s face it: the guy is right. This is America. If you want to shift your own gears, buy a Harley trike.
While the manuals-only rollout of the Dart was more a consequence of certain parts availability and QA issues than a legitimate marketing strategy, it can be seen as an acid test of a philosophy long-expressed on every Internet discussion arena since AOL started participating in USENET in September of 1993. That philosophy claims that if manufacturers just make well-equipped manual-transmission cars available to their early adopters, they will reap huge rewards.
It turns out that there are rewards, but they won’t be reaped by dealers or buyers. Instead, it’s your local Dodge store’s bank, which earns interest on “floorplanned” vehicles, that will be cashing in. Cha-ching!