FCA Discovers It's Very Difficult to Give Away the Chrysler 200
The 200 is certainly approaching death’s door more rapidly than first anticipated.
First, there was a temporary plant shutdown as a reaction to an inventory glut. Then, in response to the market’s clarification that, yes, the 200 has truly fallen out of favour, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles instituted layoffs at the Sterling Heights factory where the 200 is built. News that the current Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart would not be followed up by FCA-developed successors was made all the more real when FCA boss Sergio Marchionne said 200 production may be suspended by the end of this year.
From a corporate standpoint, there’s no doubt that FCA’s compact and midsize U.S. market passenger cars are not long for this world. Marchionne even kicked the 200 while it was down by publicly declaring its faults, design errors which play a part in Consumer Reports’ anti-recommendation.
But dealers still have tens of thousands of Chrysler 200s to sell.
FCA’s sales reports make it abundantly clear that it isn’t easy selling a prematurely discontinued car, particularly when the man who is ultimately responsible for bringing the car to fruition called its designers “dummies.”
According to Automotive News, FCA had a 117-day supply of nearly 33,000 Chrysler 200 sedans heading into May. Only 7,600 200s were sold in the United States in May 2016, a 62 percent year-over-year decline equal to 12,407 lost sales.
FCA clearly understands just how undesirable the Chrysler 200 really is at full price — the 200 wouldn’t be in its current position if a midsize Chrysler with a maddening nine-speed automatic transmission and awkward rear seat ingress was deemed by consumers to be desirable at a competitive price point.
That’s why manufacturer discounts on the 200 reached $4,500 last month, dropping the MSRP of a 2016 Chrysler 200 Limited from $25,485 to $20,985, including destination.
But it was under that scenario that 200 sales plunged 62 percent to only 7,600 units and Chrysler’s share of the midsize market tumbled by more than half from 8.5 percent in May 2015 to 3.8 percent in May 2016. Collectively, volume from the Chrysler 200’s midsize car challengers fell 12 percent for a daily selling rate decline of five percent in an abbreviated May. The 200’s daily selling rate slid 59 percent.
Thus, it’s time to forget the manufacturer’s advertised $4,500 discount and ring in the news of Chrysler.com’s new promotion: a $6,500 discount on the 2016 Chrysler 200 Limited. There are restrictions, naturally. The $4,500 discount is merely the 200’s price reduction, the added $2,000 is for buyers of the 200 who are trading in a non-FCA vehicle. FCA’s disclosure states that the offer is limited to 10 percent of eligible vehicles in dealer inventory, and delivery must occur by July 5, 2016.
Regardless, that $25,485 car is now an $18,985 car. Can it get any better for a car 96 percent of midsize car buyers didn’t want last month? Well, yes. Actually, it can.
* Dealer may sell for less.
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