Marchionne’s Dart Letdown Shows Chrysler Still Lacks Cars
January 22, 2013
by Craig Trudell & Mark Clothier
Chrysler Group LLC’s pairing up with Fiat SpA (F) was supposed to transform its car lineup into one that Americans would covet, starting with the much-hyped Dodge Dart’s debut a year ago. So far, buyers aren’t budging.
Taking on some of the most popular models on the road, the new Dodge is off to a slow start. Chrysler sold just one Dart for every five Civics that Honda Motor Co. retailed the last four months of 2012. General Motors Co. (GM)’s Chevrolet Cruze, the No. 4 compact car in the market, outsold the Dart almost 4-to-1 during that span.
The Dart’s early letdown is a rare blemish in Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne’s turnaround, which includes a 33-month streak of rising U.S. sales and three years of market-share gains. The car’s underperformance illustrates an unresolved challenge that helped thrust the automaker into bankruptcy: convincing buyers it has more to offer than sport- utility vehicles, pickups, minivans and big sedans.
“Fiat has the smaller-car expertise, they’re the European maker, and there were high expectations for that to work,” Joe Langley, an analyst for LMC Automotive, said in a telephone interview. “But Chrysler is playing in a space where they’re going to have to conquest buyers, and you have a lot of consumers that are going to stick to what they know and trust.”
Chrysler’s sales gains are built on the familiar standbys -- Ram pickups, SUVs from the Jeep brand such as Grand Cherokee, and the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans.
Full article at link.