The Dodge Dart Is Dead: Here's Why

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
the dodge dart is dead heres why

“If you’re a serious carmaker and you can’t make it in this segment, you’re doomed.”

Sergio Marchionne, September 2012

“There’s nothing wrong with the car.”

Sergio Marchionne, January 2013

“We have decided to de-focus, from the manufacturing standpoint, to de-focus on the passenger car market.”

Sergio Marchionne, January 2016

The launch was flubbed by an emphasis on manual transmissions. The brand lacked the reputation of a competitive builder of small cars after 15 years of Neons and Calibers. Trim and engine variants were, sometimes, poorly aligned. The market for passenger cars began to shrink even as the overall auto industry expanded. Demand for the Dart, limited even at its peak, dried up as most Dart competitors posted modest declines.

The reasons for the Dodge Dart’s demise are many. At the end of its run, however, the Dodge Dart’s production end in September 2016 represents a premature euthanization. After Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ boss said less than seven months ago that the Dart, along with the larger Chrysler 200, would be withdrawn from the marketplace “over a prolonged period of time,”

FCA has now clarified that “prolonged” equals only three-quarters of a year.

What’s the hurry? Jeep.

The Dodge Dart’s U.S. sales volume rose to an annual peak of 87,392 units in calendar year 2015, but through the first-half of 2016, Dart volume is down 41 percent, a loss of 19,976 units over the span of only six months.

The Jeep Cherokee, which will take over the Dart’s position at FCA’s Belvidere, Illinois, manufacturing facility, reported an all-time high of 220,260 sales in calendar year 2015. Sales are off that pace by 3 percent in early 2016, but Jeep wants to build more Cherokees. A lot more Cherokees. And they want to start building them sooner than later.

“The reason we’re ending [Dart] production in September is to allow ample time to retool the plant for production of Cherokee,” Jodi Tinson, an FCA Manufacturing and Labour spokesperson, told TTAC earlier this week.

There appears to be little incentive to continue building soon-to-expire compact sedans — with a base MSRP of $17,990 and interest-free financing over seven years — that attract fewer than 5,000 monthly U.S. buyers when you can look forward to selling more copies of a $24,490 Jeep Cherokee with optional $2,000 all-wheel drive and pricing that stretches past $40,000 with profit-driving high-end trims and option packages.

Between its launch in the second-quarter of 2012 and the end of June 2016, FCA reported 309,021 U.S. sales of the Dodge Dart. Twice, in November 2014 and again when sales peaked in March 2015, the Dart crested the 9,000-unit monthly mark. Never did the Dart attract more than 10,000 new owners in a single month. Even at the height of its incentive-fuelled popularity in March 2015, eight direct competitors outsold the Dart: Corolla, Elantra, Civic, Cruze, Sentra, Focus, Jetta, Mazda3. That month, the Dart claimed just 4.4 percent market share in its category.

The Dart’s Caliber predecessor, however, produced 277,461 sales in its first three years, including a 101,079-unit U.S. sales peak in its first full year, 2007. By the end of its run, more than 400,000 Calibers were sold in America.

If the Caliber was not considered a successful venture, how will the Dart be remembered?

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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3 of 151 comments
  • Whatnext Whatnext on Jul 24, 2016

    But everybody wants premium, who are all these people buying the Journey and Grand Caravan? FCA can't figure out what direction they want to go in.

    • VoGo VoGo on Jul 24, 2016

      Why doesn't FCA just call Mr. Hertz, Ms. Avis and young master Enterpise and ask them why they buy Journeys and Caravans?

  • TopJimmy5150 TopJimmy5150 on Jul 24, 2016

    They are crappy, ill-conceived cars. This was a mercy killing.

  • Dukeisduke I tried watching the live reveal last night, but after 15 minutes of jawing by MT+ personalities (and yes, I like Chris Jacobs and Alex Taylor), I turned it off.
  • Paul MBAs gonna MBA.
  • Zipper69 Clearly beyond German thought processes to simply keep A for IC engine and use "E" for all other so you can have a A6 and a E6.
  • Ianw33 It makes me laugh how many complaints i see here in the comments section. Leave it to "car enthusiasts" to be unhappy with the fact that a mainstream auto manufacturer produced a 1K HP car with a warranty that isn't $250K+. can't we just be happy that something crazy/fun exists like this before its gone, even if its not your cup of tea?
  • YellowDuck This is a completely vulgar vehicle. I understand that that is the point, but still...pretty douchey.