Poor sales of the Dodge Dart have led to temporary layoffs at the auto maker’s Belvidere, Illinois plant, where the Dart is produced. Despite Chrysler sales being up 11 percent last month, sales of the Dart were down 37 percent.
Speaking to the Daily Herald, Autopacific’s Dave Sullivan noted that
“What’s going on now with the Dart is that when buyers go into a Dodge showroom they are getting such great incentives on the Dodge Avenger that buyers are choosing the larger car. It’s going to be several months before the Avenger is sold out, then we’ll get a better sense where the interest is in the Dart.”
Current incentives on the Avenger mean that it’s possible to get a mid-level Avenger for roughly the same price as a Dart. Although the difference may be $1,000-$2,000 in MSRP, it means virtually nothing in the realm of monthly payments that most car shoppers operate in.
As of February 1, Chrysler had a 220 day supply of Avengers and a 129 day supply of Darts. Both figures are abnormally large for the industry, but they only serve to highlight the problem outlined by Sullivan. Incentives on the Avenger will rise, as Chrysler tries to clear out the remaining stock, meaning the Dart could languish on the lots. Year-to-date, the Avenger is even outselling the Dart by about 3,000 units.
Prior to the Dart’s launch, Sergio Marchionne sat for an interview with 60 Minutes, where he proudly showed off the Dart for the cameras and said “If you’re a serious car maker and you can’t make it into this segment, you’re doomed.” At the time, it might have seemed like harmless bluster. Right now, those words look a bit ominous – even if the Dart itself isn’t such a bad product.