The Wall Street Journal
January 16, 2013
Chrysler Group LLC Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said on Monday he isn’t satisfied with sales of the new Dodge Dart, but he added that the compact car will soon get a new transmission that should help boost demand.
The all-new nameplate, Chrysler’s first compact sedan in seven years, went on sale in June. In the Dart’s first six months of sales, Chrysler has sold about 25,000 of the cars, far less than its rivals in that size.
Still, Mr. Marchionne sees plenty of potential for the Dart, a car derived from an Alfa Romeo model designed by majority owner Fiat SpA of Italy.
Mr. Marchionne attributed the slow sales to the car being launched last year with a manual transmission, an option that appeals to only 5% of the marketplace in the U.S. He also said the engine and transmission options need to be improved, given the competition.
“We learned the hard way,” Mr. Marchionne said. “And we learned quickly.”
Chrysler aims to remedy the issues with a new nine-speed transmission that will eventually go into the Dart. Mr. Marchionne didn’t offer a time frame, saying only that the first allocations of the new transmission will go to a Jeep sport-utility vehicle arriving this summer.
Mr. Marchionne also said several other vehicles that were scheduled to be launched this year under Chrysler’s 2009 five-year plan have now been pushed back to 2014, including a compact car under the Chrysler brand.