Best-Selling Midsize Car: Chrysler 200, In Canada, In October

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Canada’s best-selling midsize car? The Chrysler 200.

At least, that was the case in October 2014, a month in which sales of the 200 jumped 120% to 1800 units. Even with the near-disappearance of the Dodge Avenger, the fraternal twin of the new 200’s predecessor, Chrysler Canada midsize car sales grew 64% last month.

Odd as this may sound for U.S. observers, it’s not completely out of the blue in Canada. Nor did we arrive at this point without an explanation.

South of the border last month, the 200 was outsold by a large group of direct rivals: Camry, Accord, Altima, Fusion, Sonata, and Optima. Moreover, even though 200 sales jumped 40% to 11,675 units, total Chrysler Group midsize volume was down 5% as the 200 has not yet been able to make up for the Avenger’s lost volume, as well.

In Canada, on the other hand, the 200 was well ahead of all direct rivals, opening up a 421-unit gap between the Chrysler and Honda’s Accord. In other words, the 200 31% more often than the Honda last month. The leader from July, August, and September, Hyundai’s Sonata, was down 25% as it no longer benefited so thoroughly from both the arrival of a new generation and the clear-out of the outgoing car. Canada’s year-to-date leader, the Ford Fusion, was up 4% compared with October 2013, its second-lowest month last year.

Looking at recent history, the Fusion has been the Canadian midsize leader for much of the last half-decade, topping the category in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013. But the Ford’s 12% year-to-date drop through the first ten months of 2014 is symbolic of the category’s overall decline. Midsize car sales in Canada are down 14% this year. And it’s not as though these were Canada’s favourite cars to begin with.

Twelve midsize nameplates from Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen have accounted for fewer than 99,000 sales this year, or about 15% of Canada’s declining passenger car market. Those same cars are responsible for nearly 31% of U.S. new car sales.

While midsize cars rank first, second, fourth, sixth, and tenth in year-to-date U.S. car sales, Canada’s top midsize car, the Fusion, slots in behind eight better-selling small cars, including the subcompact Hyundai Accent.

It’s among these doldrums that Chrysler Canada spotted an opportunity with their new, more stylish, more modern car. And so they incentivized the 200 up to its wing mirrors in discounts, a story chronicled in TTAC’s most recent review of the 2015 200.

The comparison thus becomes 200 versus Dart as much as it is 200 versus Accord. At this moment, Chrysler Canada’s advertised deals include $3000 in consumer cash, dropping the base price below $20,000 to match mid-grade Darts, a price which is bound to be further reduced on dealer lots with obvious, obligatory accouterment: bouncing gorillas and streamers and balloons. The Dart conundrum is a story told on TTAC in the past, but who would have expected the debate to return so soon? Return, yes, but so soon?

And as you’ve guessed, Dart sales did decline in October, falling 14% to 549 units, 1251 back of the 200. Canadian Dart sales are down 13% in 2014.

On a larger scale, the Chrysler Group was Canada’s leading manufacturer in October for the first time since March. The lead over the Ford Motor Company, Canada’s year-to-date leader by a small margin, was inconsequentially small, but it’s nevertheless a key fact in this whole issue.

The 200 succeeds in Canada in large part because of the way it’s positioned price-wise, but also because of Chrysler’s might in this country. Chrysler’s five brands own 15.6% of the Canadian market this year compared with 12.6% in the United States.

Imported from Detroit? Why, yes, the 200 is actually built outside Detroit in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Chrysler’s two other products, the 300 and Town & Country, are built in Ontario.

Timothy Cain
Timothy Cain

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  • Mechaman Mechaman on Nov 12, 2014

    Ain't surprised. Car is purty. I'm still gunshy of Chrysler .. but judging by all the previous generations of 200's/Sebrings, expect to see a lot more than the two I saw this week. They made it just enough different from the old 200, but not so much that you can't tell what it is...

  • Spreadsheet monkey Spreadsheet monkey on Nov 12, 2014

    Hope Chrysler brings the 200 to the UK. At the moment we only get the 300, Grand Voyager and JGC. The Sebring/Avenger got a bad rep in the UK, and suffered the indignity of "buy one get one free" deals (http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/buy-one-avenger-get-one-free) but the new 200 is a good looking car with a nice interior that would sell well in Europe if priced right and fitted with a diesel engine from the Fiat/Alfa range.

    • TMA1 TMA1 on Nov 12, 2014

      Kia still suffers from that stigma in the US.

  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.
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