By on March 2, 2011

The Freep notes that

Sales of the “Imported from Detroit” Chrysler 200 were a modest 2,319 in February. But during the same month a year ago, Chrysler sold 3,160 of the 200’s much-maligned predecessor, the Sebring.

And though the 200 has been in production since December, Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel insists

It’s still in ramp-up mode, and we’ll continue to build volumes over this month and the next several months

But with the updated Avenger selling 3,477 units in the same month (without the benefit of an endlessly drooled-over Super Bowl ad), surely something is afoot here. To the numbers!

A look at our sales breakdown reveals that the 200 actually slightly outsold the Sebring sedan’s February ’10 performance, 2,875 to 2,718. The difference: only 125 Sebring or 200 convertibles were sold last February, while a year ago Chrysler moved 442 of the midsized drop-tops. Is this a sign of some rental fleet sales discipline on Chrysler’s part? Either way, it seems that Chrysler’s splashy $9m ad for the 200 didn’t do all that much for the 200 (or, worse still, Chrysler overproduced Avengers, dooming the 200 ad to failure). For a turnaround, this sure seems like just treading water.

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52 Comments on “Where’s The Chrysler 200’s Super Bump?...”

  • avatar

    People seem to love the ads. It’s a shame they didn’t have a much better product to feature in them. Ads will, at best, lead more people to look at the car. If they don’t like what they then see it won’t sell any better.
    There’s an old adage: nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising.

  • avatar

    I don’t think people know what a “200” is.
    The ad generated interest in Chrysler, but not the car itself.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. Love it or hate it, people seemed to know what a “Sebring” was. Another cautionary tale for those who believe that damage nameplates should be dropped and not rehabilitated.

    • 0 avatar

      Ditto. The ad barely featured the 200 at all. It was primarily a pitch that Detroit car building should not be counted out, and that Chrysler is not dead yet.

    • 0 avatar

      Do a google search on “chrysler 200” (which was the number one google search term on the day of the Superbowl) and the Chrysler website is lucky to make it on the first page. SEO fail.
      They used to (I’m not in the USA) have a paid google ad, which you direct you not to the corporate website, but to the Chrysler ad on Youtube. So you watch the ad once, and then click on whatever youtube suggests you see, as opposed to getting the customer experience that Chrysler could control on their website.
      Some people just deserve to go broke.

  • avatar

    The hard points of the old car are the same, there’s still some outdated technology, and the integrated headrests on the back seat are the same goofy shape as the old model.

  • avatar

    You can put lipstick on a pig, but don’t hold your breath waiting for people to line up to kiss it.

    • 0 avatar

      At minute mark 1:21, check out the heavy pancake make-up on Marshall Mathers.
      Make-up on a dude runs counter to the message of a tough guy in a gritty blue collar town and despite the squinty eyed faux hard facial expression on ectomorph Mathers.

    • 0 avatar

      You do realize that most of the people you see on camera on some kind of network, outside of reality shows (and even some of those) has been made-up, don’t you? Every rapper in every video has had hair and makeup done.
      If Muddy could put a photo spread of him getting his hair processed and pompadoured in the center gatefold of an album, I’m not going to get too worked up over Mathers wearing a little Pan-Cake.

    • 0 avatar

      Of course you realize that said make-up should not be noticeable on men.
      As with CGI, a good make-up job won’t be so obvious.
      Mathers looks like a Vaudeville clown with all that thick pancake grease on his snarly face.
      Many men wear cologne, but when it is immediately and constantly noticeable, it is too much cologne.

  • avatar

    A turd by any other name…

    Seriously, as a marketing professional I loved the two-minute Chrysler 200 Super Bowl ad. It created great guzz, a lot of discussion and it had the “right” message.

    I don’t think this is a case of bad marketing, I really feel Chrysler and their agency knocked it out of the park, and it was probably the best of generally poor car ads during the Super Bowl (Kia, what were you thinking in that Optima ad???).

    I think the real problem is, it is still a Sebring at it’s heart. A turd by any other name.  It really is sad; I see it as a bit of a wasted effort on a product that just isn’t going to sell no matter what they do; short of blowing it out to rental fleets.

  • avatar

    The ad struck a deep chord in people with deep affiliations to Detroit but struck most other people with the ho-hum effect of hearing the fight song of a small college you have no interest in and located across the country, “Go Saint Buffletown Bears !”.
    Using the numeric sequence ‘200’ for a car name is as traction-less as Mazda using ‘3’.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it wants to create a relationwith their flagship model 300.

    • 0 avatar

      Whether trying to prove a connection with the 300, I dislike number or letter combination car names. It just says to me we have no idea what to call it, lets just throw some numbers out there. Besides if Fiat has the 500, if you go by numbers it would seem the 200 and 300 are lesser cars.
      I like a car with a name. Though true in some cases that gives prestige, but you have to build up prestige to begin with. Chrysler doesn’t really have that right now.

  • avatar

    Jeez never a missed opportunity to bash Chrysler.  I get it…you think Chrysler sucks.

    Why waste the space. Get back to real news. Like how great you think Toyota, Honda are no matter what they do.

  • avatar

    I thought that the commercial was really cool.  But, I think that product may not be.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    From the Feb sales numbers, it appears that the rental cars simply didn’t buy much last month, which is why everybody had better retail sales for the month.

    Chrysler being highly dependent up on rental car sales, this results in low sales for the month.

  • avatar

    I think its going to take more than one advertisement and a design refresh to turn around the fortunes of Chryslers midsize family offerings. Clearly Chrysler has a lot more work to do but TTAC headline is also a little rhetorical – do really think that one Superbowl car ad will cause a sales spike? Did VW sell more Passats because of the Darth Jr spot?

  • avatar

    It could be that Chrysler is resisting the temptation to sell these on price alone, as they had to do with the old Sebring.  This could be the reason for the much higher Dodge numbers – the Dodge should cost less and the Chrysler should be more expensive. 
    Will it all work?  Good question.  My high-school age son likes the new 200, but I have seen maybe one out actually on the road (compared with a single new Town & Country, two new Grand Caravans, and quite a few Grand Cherokees).

  • avatar

    Maybe TTAC should review the car. Apart from Jack’s reviews, from 2010, our last Chrysler review was for the Pacifica– a vehicle not built since 2008.
    TTAC makes a lot of noise about Chrysler as a company, but you appear to have no experience with new product.
    Remedy that.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      This was my review of the car for another publication:
      Warning: this particular outlet edits my writing very heavily. Women, vodka, sticky plants, random violence, and words containing more than two syllables are all Bowdlerized right out.

    • 0 avatar

      @Jack Baruth
      Is there any way you could post your original, unedited, as-nasty-as-you-want-to-be review here?

  • avatar

    The “lipstick on a pig” meme is getting old.  Yes it’s the same platform, with much of the same sheetmetal between the front and rear clips, but I’ve drive an older Sebring and a 200, and suspension, steering, ride and handling are much improved. It’s not a great design, but still decent in it’s class. Had the improvements been made 4 years ago, it would have sold better. The car is just a stopgap until a midsize replacement is ready.
    The ad really wasn’t a 200 ad, it was an ad to remind people that Chrysler still existed, and was still making cars. It served that purpose very well, whether the 200 car shown in the ad sold better or not. After a decade of being stripped and mismanaged by former owners, followed by a bankruptcy and the lion’s share of attention paid to GM, Chrysler’s Job One  was to tell people “Hey, we’re still here!” The ad did just that.

  • avatar

    When I test drove a 200, the dealer had stocked only V6 models — none of the base LX that was the only Sebring that could move. If that’s widespread, Chrysler may not be selling any more 200s than Sebrings, but they’re selling better 200s.

  • avatar

    I have not seen the add but I did take a close look at the 200 at the West Michigan auto show. It impressed me because it was the only car from Detroit that had a soft touch dash. The rest of the interior seemed well put together, the doors opened and closed solidly and the door handles did not jiggle loosely as did ones on GM products. Perhaps Chrysler has failed to advertise these small differences in quality to people and not explained that it means the car will not fall to bits after hitting the first pot hole?

    • 0 avatar

      In the same class the Fusion also has a soft touch dash, and in fact has had one since 2006.

    • 0 avatar

      The Fusion’s dash was cold, hard, dime-store plastic until the mild refresh in 2010…and even then the materials are not so hot.

    • 0 avatar

      Silvy –
      That comment makes me wonder if you’ve ever actually driven any of the Ford products you like to complain about so much.  The Fusion has had a soft touch dash from day 1.

      Edmunds also seems to have noticed it:

    • 0 avatar

      @beerboy: I was at the West Michigan show, too. I looked at the 200 that was off by itself on the show floor (it was black on black with wheel covers). It seemed rather well assembled and there was nothing that would have put me off from test driving it were I serious about buying one. I’m more interested in the Journey, though. However, none of the show cars I saw had any noticeable defects like loose door handles. The worst cars were the Scions, as they removed all shifter and radio knobs. No other display did that, But, I didn’t sit in the Porsche Panamera to know for sure.

      I have never understood the fascination with soft-touch dashboards, though. I looked carefully at the new Passat interior, the one that’s supposed to be so awful, it seemed perfectly acceptable. You can tell it’s built to a price, but in this case, it’s not like it’s made out of rocks.

      A friend had a loaded up Sebring sedan when they first came out, it was a very nice car. If Chrysler can keep making nice cars, I think the public will catch on.

  • avatar

    It pains me to say it, but images of Detroit no longer inspire much national pride.  Labor unions have just about destroyed the big three, along with many other U.S. manufacturing jobs.  “Imported from the ghetto” would have been just as effective for a promotional slogan.   

    • 0 avatar

      I’m beginning to think that besides the impact of foreign competition, we can’t discount productivity gains. An assembly plant for a car company used to employ 10,000 people when it was cooking, now it’s about 2,500. A lot of jobs didn’t so much move to China as they have gone away.

    • 0 avatar

      “Imported from the ghetto”
      You’ve hit on an unintended sub-text of the ad, it re-affirmed that Detroit is a troubled place.
      It violated the rule that charity ads for starving kids should not actually show the most emaciated and sickly kids…that is a turn off.
      The Imported from Detroit ad was a dystopian downer.  Most people will prefer their car to come from a sunny town in the South with intact buildings and brightly lit boulevards not grimy dim alleys of Sadville.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not from there, so if Sterling Heights is not a suburb but an urban area please correct me, but it should be “imported form the suburbs (of Detroit)”.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point, Ronnie.  A popular meme is “America doesn’t build things anymore.”  There are lots of data that show that, yes, we do still build lots of stuff.  It just takes a lot fewer people to do it.

      It’s sort of like farming – we produce more and more food every year with fewer and fewer farmers.

  • avatar

    The Fusion does have a soft-touch dash, but it’s of such terrible quality it’s not worth mentioning. I’m not just talking sloppy fit/finish/tolerances, but the actual graining on the auto show samples almost looked as though the mold was worn out in places as even the texture was inconsistent.
    To be fair, it’s not just the domestics. The new Jetta’s dash is rock hard, as is most of the Accord’s dash.  The Subaru Legacy is all now cheap junky plastic.

    • 0 avatar

      Unfortunately, we in the US don’t hold the monopoly on crappy plastics, Europe has got them too. Over on YouTube I’ve seen many videos from Car buyer, from the UK and he’s run into cars with cheap, scratchy plastic as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Hard, coarse-grained plastic lasts longer.  The stuff in my Fit looks more or less the way it did when I bought it, while a the lovely, soft-touch stuff in a few of our corporate Jettas of the same age looks like hell now that’s worn and peeled.  My Saab did the same in a few places.
      I’m perfectly ok with hard plastics.  My stereo is hard, grained plastic.  My phone is hard plastic.  My next laptop will, hopefully, be hard plastic instead of the lovely soft-touch stuff on my ThinkPad T61 (that’s also worn and scratched) or the glossy (and scratched, and fingerprinted) stuff on the few SL500s we had on eval.

      As far as I’m concerned, soft-touch plastics and leather seats can be consigned to the “useless affectation” bin.

  • avatar

    It’s a terrible car. That is why. A slightly better interior, and a new front end do not make the worst car good. Or even acceptable. Even the people that build it still make fun of it.

  • avatar

    The 200 is facing the problems that all new ChryCo vehicles have faced, slow production ramp up.
    It started with the Grand Cherokee, now the Durango, and everything else.
    I haven’t seen a single restyled Avenger or a 200, even in the rental fleets.
    Even just now the restyled Compass is seeing the light of day. These 2011 improvements are taking a long time to get going.
    I have no idea how that many 200’s were sold simply because I didn’t even know they out yet.

  • avatar

    I can’t comment on the new 200, but my Mom has the 2004 Dodge Stratus variant with the 4 and while a nice looking, fairly competent car in and of itself, one that I’d not be ashamed of taking from her if she suddenly finds herself not able to drive anymore and I was in need of a car.
    That said, there ARE some things about it I’d have wanted different, the seats are decent, though lacking in lumbar support, the interior of hers is rather pedestrian, but at least the color is baked into the plastic, rather than painted on like in the ’06 Chevy Cobalt I rented where the areas around the window switches were badly scratched, especially up front, the overall layout of her car is good, all switchgear falls to hand but the steering needed more life, a bit dead if you ask me, overall performance was decent, though not stellar, more than adequate and gets up to speed nicely and I think it sports a 4spd auto, rather than a 5spd.
    The ride is fair, gets unsettled on washboard roads and it does kind of crash through the worst potholes and cracks, noise isn’t bad other than tire noise, especially over scrapped pavement where they are preparing for resurfacing and the BF Goodrich tires she has on there now are making that worse but it has always been a bit of a problem at times.
    The exterior design is quite nice indeed, better looking than a lot of sedans and I’m not much of a sedan kind of guy to begin with, but really, truth be told, this isn’t a bad car at all, though not the best car out there, but certainly not the worst, not by a long shot.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    You might want to check those numbers for a typo – it seems this years numbers do not add up. The total sold is namely less than the number of sedans only, adding convertibles makes it even weirder. :)

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I’d like to report that “Imported from Detroit” is very similar to the slogan for Turkey Hill dairy products … ice cream, etc., which are “Imported from Lancaster County.”

  • avatar
    Alex Rodriguez

    This article is very premature.  The 200 is barely arriving at showrooms, it is just a few weeks out of pre-production.  Same for the 300 and the Charger.  Look at those numbers.  Do you expect the new 300 to sell only 1,300 units a month?  Do you expect the new Charger to sell only 3,200 units a month? 

    • 0 avatar

      I will attest to that theory. Our store has 2 200s and 1 Charger, with 300s expected in the next week or two.

      Yes, we expect more soon, but simply put, if you don’t have ’em, you can’t sell ’em.

  • avatar

    The 200 is a HUGE improvement over the Sebring. The new interior is almost decadent when compared to the craplastic Camry. My local dealership had a very limited supply of the 200 when the ad broke. I think if people really take a good look at this car, they will like what they see. It has a sense of style and upscale interior materials that most of the blandmobiles in this class are lacking. An amazing refresh in such a short time that has at least made the car competitive with others in its class.

  • avatar

    Yep Marshall hit the nail on the head. That is exactly what they do in Detroit.

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