The Dodge Dart rolled unceremoniously out of the Fiat Chrysler stable after the 2016 model year, but the automaker now worries it may roll out of owners’ driveways.
Fiat Chrysler is recalling 298,439 Darts in the United States, 20,117 in Canada, and 3,400 in Mexico to fix a shift cable that can detach from the transmission, potentially leaving the car stuck in a gear that isn’t “park.”
On Friday, I penned a minor rant about the state of the four-door sedan. Many of you read and commented, for which I offer my profuse thanks. It’s the readers who make this place, after all.
Many good reasons and theories were bandied about in the comments, leading me to believe the B&B has a bit more opinion than most on the future of this once-burgeoning segment. Still, we know four-door family sedans are slowly going the way of PalmPilots and Polaroids.
My question for today is this: what’s the next sedan, on sale today, you think will asked to leave stage right?
After announcing earlier this year that it wanted someone else to take care of its problem patients, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is performing surgery on the slow-selling Dodge Dart lineup.
The Fiat-based compact will be pared down from five offerings to three, outfitted to offer the features customers want at a strategic price, with no engine overlap between models. It also means the end of the “Obama Dart” — the high-mileage Aero edition produced to satisfy the U.S. government’s bailout conditions many years back. More on that later.
The midsize sedan that can’t catch a break is continuing to darken a plant where workers can’t catch a shift.
The Sterling Heights, Michigan assembly plant that produces the Chrysler 200 will remain closed for another three weeks, Automotive News reports, extending the temporary closure to a total of nine weeks.
Slow sales and a steep inventory glut are to blame for the shutdown, which was needed for supply and demand to regain equilibrium.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne on Wednesday said the automaker would rely more heavily on profitable Jeeps and Rams in North America and Europe to help its business remain profitable in other sagging areas and regions.
“We are not of the view that this industry is facing an impending demise,” Marchionne said before announcing FCA’s adjusted earnings of $1.78 billion in the fourth quarter.
Marchionne and CFO Richard Palmer said Jeep’s success in North America and Europe led the company last year and would be the “bedrock” for the automaker’s future. The automaker laid out specific plans to bring forward a Jeep pickup and Wagoneer, and let wither less-profitable models such as the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart.
So many Chrysler A-bodies in junkyards these days, even though the last ones rolled off the assembly line in 1981 (in South America and Australia; the final Detroit-built A-body was a 1976 model). These cars were cheap and simple, and they’re still useful transportation in the 21st century, so many of them manage to stay on the street well into their 30s and 40s. Sadly, even the most fanatical Dart/Valiant restorer has all the affordable two-doors and/or factory V8 cars he or she can handle, and so when a made-by-the-zillions Slant-6 Malaise Era sedan craps out, it’s going to The Crusher. So far in this series, we’ve seen this ’60 Valiant wagon, this ’61 Valiant, this ’63 Dart, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, and now we’re adding yet another ’75 to the list.
For the entire time I’ve been on this planet, Chrysler A-bodies have been a constant presence in American wrecking yards, and they’re still quite easy to find today, 33 years after the last Valiant Charger rolled off the assembly line in Australia. I don’t photograph every Dart and Valiant that I see in junkyards, but this series has included this ’61 Valiant, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, and today we’ll admire a non-rusty California Dart two-door that I saw back in December.
Will there ever be a time in which no Chrysler A-bodies show up in North America’s cheap self-serve wrecking yards? Sure, Darts and Valiants were as common 20 years ago as are dead Tauruses now, so the former torrent of old Chrysler compacts has become a trickle, but I still find at least a couple of them every time I visit The Crusher’s waiting room. In the last couple of years, this series has included this ’75 Duster, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’66 Dart, this ’73 Valiant, and this ’61 Valiant, and today we’ll be admiring the car that was to 1983 what the ’94 Corolla is to 2013: a cheap, dependable sedan that nobody noticed.
A few months ago, we saw this Lebowski-grade ’75 Gran Torino in a Denver wrecking yard, and an early Chrysler A body could be seen in the background. Here’s that car!
The chances are good that, as a TTAC reader, you use a smartphone. Among the literate, educated people who make up our reader base, ownership of a touch-screen phone with more computing power than a stack of DEC PDP-11s is the rule, not the exception. Google claims that over 250 million devices are running Android. Apple sold as many as 44 million iPhones in the past quarter. To some degree, the entire globe runs on these devices. Most of us couldn’t do our jobs or manage our lives without them.
The chances are not good that, as a TTAC reader, you own one of the two hundred and two 426 Hemi Super Stock “A990” Dodge Corornets and Plymouth Belvederes built. 93 TorqueFlite Dodges, 8 four-speed stick Dodges, 85 TorqueFlite Belvederes, 16 four-speeds. They were up to five hundred pounds lighter than their non-A990 brethren and were known to turn quarter-mile times in the high ten-second range with trap speeds between one-twenty-five and one-thirty. Modern supercars like the GT-R and Ferrari 458 can’t hang with a 1965 Plymouth Belvedere. Think about that.
Now think about the fact that, without those ’65 Mopars, your smartphone wouldn’t work quite the same way it does today.
With the government still waiting to see how much it will get out of its equity in General Motors, The General seems to be attracting more of the media commentary than Chrysler these days. And not without good reason: GM saw the greatest drop in market share last month of any Detroit automaker, its government-hyped Volt is flopping, Opel continues to be an open sore and it can’t help but flaunt its cluelessness about youth marketing. But interest in GM’s shortcomings seems to be driven by little more than election-year political implications, which Chrysler was able to avoid by borrowing cash and misleadingly claiming to have squared up with the American taxpayer. After all, Chrysler is facing just as many challenges as GM, if not more. And despite having formally closed the bailout chapter of its history, Chrysler’s performance still bears on the decision to rescue America’s weakest major automaker.
Usually, when you bring a car from Europe to be made in the U.S., you need to bring something else: Money. You know, for buying real estate for a plant, machinery, that kind of thing. Except when you are Fiat. In that case, a thankful U.S. government hands you yet another 5 percent of Chrysler, as a token of its appreciation, for what amounts to be a token act.
Jack Baruth showed you the Alfa-based new Dodge Dart – but what does it mean? For Sergio Marchionne, the little car means a lot. It means the final five percent of Chrysler, to be exact.
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