Dodge Dart Sales Are Actually On The Upswing
Often criticized for its poor performance in North American markets, the Dodge Dart has performed significantly better over the last five months, a period in which its midsize sibling, Dodge’s Avenger, gradually disappeared.
After generating nearly 50,000 U.S. sales in the first three-quarters of 2014, the discontinued Avenger dried up at the end of the year, generating only 2342 sales in the fourth-quarter and 461 in the first two months of 2015. The clear-out of deeply discounted, V6-engined, midsize cars from the Dodge portfolio opened up an opportunity for the Dart.
Through the first four months of 2014, Dart sales had tumbled 29% to just 22,098 units. But year-over-year volume increased in May, June July, and August (16%, 12%, 23%, and 22% respectively). The month of May, in fact, marked the Dart’s best-ever performance up to that point with 8644 sales. After a brief September decline, the Dart once again entered a period in which sales increased, rising 32% in the fourth-quarter with plenty of help from November, when 9012 Dart sales marked the nameplate’s best-ever U.S. sales performance.
The streak has continued in early 2015. January volume shot up 61% year-over-year, and while that comparison takes into account a January 2014 in which Dart volume dropped sharply, the first month of 2015 was still the nameplate’s best of its three Januarys. February volume jumped 52%, and though not quite as successful as February 2013, last month certainly clarified the consistency of the Dart’s upward trend.
Improved the Dart may be, but it’s still selling like an upper-tier subcompact in a market that hugely favours compacts. Over the last two months, the Dart ranks 24th in U.S. passenger car sales: eighth in its class; tenth among small cars; up eight spots compared with the same period a year ago. The gap between the Dart and the most successful compacts is massive. The Chevrolet Cruze, America’s third-best-selling small car, has outsold the Dart 2.4-to-1 over the last two months despite decreased Cruze volume and increased Dart volume.
On the bright side, perhaps there’s a future for the Dart, a car which initially flopped but is now showing signs of life. A best-selling future? Unlikely. The Dart is completing its third year on the market and isn’t getting any younger. But consistent mid-pack placement? That’s a more reasonable goal.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.
Stevelovescars on Mar 10, 2015
I think the comments about options and pricing could be said about nearly every car on the market. A friend bought a base Versa Note (manual trans, no options) for under $13k. At that price, she should barely find decent used car with less than 80k miles on it and certainly nothing Japanese. But load one up with options close to $20k and it isn't remotely competitive with anything. Nicer cloth and navigation won't make it quieter or faster car. Her depreciation on that car will be much lower when it's time to sell in a few years, even with high miles. I saw used Versas selling for more than she paid new. Most of the expensive options on cars aren't things one really needs and don't bring much at resale time. Nav? Don't you have a smart phone in your pocket like everyone else? Lane departure warning system? Look over your shoulder and it's just an annoyance. When nearly every car (except for that Versa) seems to come standard with PW/PL, A/C, a decent stereo, what does one "need" in a new car? Have you plugged some of those options in KBB? A used car with Nav usually comes out a hundred or two higher than one without. That tells me what the market value of that stuff really is. Not to mention the cost of updating and repairing those items as the cars age. The problem is that the dealers in smaller markets rarely seem to stock less-optioned cars. I live in Northern Michigan and finding a manual transmission in stock of anything is nearly impossible. Even Subaru and Mazda dealers here only have loaded automatics figuring people will just take what's available rather than travel a couple of hours. A Subaru CrossTrek (exceedingly popular in this climate) is a heck of a car for $22-$23k but most of them here are loaded to the $28k level and I don't think the local dealer has had a manual transmission example on the lot in 6 months.
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