The 2013 Dodge Dart's trajectory towards dealer lots has officially begun. The first Dart rolled of the line at Chrysler's Belvidere Assembly yesterday, en route to a late June appearance at your local Dodge showroom.

Belvidere's future was uncertain after the poor reception given its previous product line, the Dodge Caliber and its Jeep platform mates, the Compass and Patriot. The Dart launches with more promise than any product since the original Neon, which began production at the Illinois plant in 1995.

While Belvidere has been open since 1965, it has had a long history of building inexpensive Mopar models since the Dodge Monaco and Plymouth Fury went out of production in the late 1970s. Belvidere built Dodge Omnis and Plymouth Horizons through the 1980s, and the K-car-based Chrysler New Yorker and Dodge Dynasty before retooling for the Neon.

Belvidere was also home to several of Chrysler's awesome budget performance models, the Shelby GLHS, Neon ACR and Dodge SRT4. Here's to hoping that it can soon add a hot-rodded Dart to that resume.

Scroll down to see video of the event and read the full press release.


Show full PR text
History-Making Day for 2013 Dodge Dart
by Pete Misiak

May 7, 2012 2:31 PM

There's a prevailing attitude at the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois. No matter where you go inside the nearly 5-million-square-foot facility, or who among the more than 2,700 workers you may talk to, there's one distinct feeling there that overshadows all the rest.

Pride.

And for good reason.

Today, the first 2013 Dodge Dart rolled off the assembly line, officially beginning a new era for the brand's compact car segment, offering customers roominess, style, functionality and fuel-efficiency.

It's also time for a little pomp and celebration on this watershed day for the plant, its workers and for Dodge.

"This is huge for everybody here at Belvidere," said plant manager Kurt Kavajecz. "Seeing that Dart roll off the line was quite a thrill for me and the men and women who built it."

"The launch of the 2013 Dodge Dart is one of the most anticipated in our history and represents a tremendous source of pride for the Brand and the Company," said President & CEO Dodge Brand Reid Bigland. "The all-new Dart offers consumers features and benefits never before found in a compact car."

The all-new Dart will begin to arrive at Dodge dealers across the country in late June and already has been bestowed with several awards. The Dart was named to "Ward's 10 Best Interiors" List for 2012, as well as being awarded "Most Significant Vehicle" at the North American International Auto Show by editors at Autoweek. And, just last week, the Texas Auto Writers Association named the Dart the "Best Value," "Best New Feature" and "Compact Car of Texas."

It's ironic that although the pride for the all-new Dodge Dart felt throughout the Belvidere plant is genuine (and not manufactured), it was the manufacturing of the Dart that provides the source of that pride.

There's an anonymous quote that puts the whole issue into perspective: "Pride is a personal commitment. It is an attitude which separates excellence from mediocrity."

Or, as that great sage (and former baseball pitcher/broadcaster) Dizzy Dean was known to say, "It ain't bragging if you can do it."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 38 Comments
      Cooperaaaron
      • 3 Years Ago
      Congrats to the Belvidere plant workers, the Kenosha Engine Plant transfers, and others, for a successful product launch and a future with jobs in the Rockford area!
      MJC
      • 3 Years Ago
      I remember spending some time in Auburn Hills in 2009 on a work assignment, and it was a total ghost town. I wondered if Chrysler would ever recover. It's great to see Americans back to work and building what looks to be a great car.
      TBQ
      • 3 Years Ago
      Anyone know what it means when you see 3 of these Darts driving around with manufacturer plates? I swear I've seen the same 3 driving around together for months around mid-Michigan. Not engineers.
        UN4GTBL
        • 3 Years Ago
        @TBQ
        Real world testing, or fast feed back cars.
        Hamzah Mahmood
        • 3 Years Ago
        @TBQ
        They're fast feedback cars. I've have one.
          SYE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Hamzah Mahmood
          What does fast feedback car mean? What is it always 3 of them together? Is their job title "fast feedback driver"?
      Typesbad
      • 3 Years Ago
      I went on school field trips to the Belvidere plant a couple of times as a kid, back when they were building, well... Belvideres, which to me, meant Roadrunners. I've always rooted for the plant and its products ever since, which presented plenty of challenges over the years. But I was prepared. You see, I was also a Chicago Cub fan.
      Suzq044
      • 3 Years Ago
      Cant wait to see these in person; the Green color is growing on me, and I want to see the blues in person. Since our Auto Show (San Diego) is before all the cool stuff gets revealed, we only get 'last-years' crap' and it usually is just a car-sales device.
      Hazdaz
      • 3 Years Ago
      And to think that fools out there wanted for Chrysler to go under. They should be ashamed of themselves. Getting saved and eventually tied up with Fiat is probably one of the best things to ever happen to the company. Can't wait to see one of these in person.
        MastrCake
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        I will admit, I used to think that Chrysler built such a bad product that I personally wouldn't have shed a single tear if they went under. In hindsight, maybe not such a great thought. I was even a bit apprehensive about a Fiat ownership. But after seeing their lineup and especially the new Dart, I wholeheartedly feel that Chrysler is on the right path. I think they're on an even better path than GM. I've sat in and driven much of the current, revamped Chrysler lineup and have been VERY impressed. So impressed that I'm (seriously) going to order a Dart as soon as I get to drive one (if, of course, I like it).
        stclair5211
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Ok. Now for a reality check. This is a business. Nobody is owed anything. Build crap cars and you go out of business. Violating the constitution, losing billions (sorry folks we did lose money, spin it all you you want), etc was wrong. If that isn't bad enough go check what fiat got chrysler for! Chrysler is far from out of the woods. One rebadged Alfa isn't exactly reversing a trend. I just think of all those businesses that have failed and never got a bailout. All those workers nobody cared about. Why is Chrysler so special? They aren't.
          MastrCake
          • 3 Years Ago
          @stclair5211
          It's not a "rebadged Alfa". Yes, it's the same basic platform, but it's longer, wider, taller, reshaped, reappointed, and Americanized. It doesn't share much at all with the Giulietta, but I hear the suspension tuning is VERY similar.
      Sean Smith
      • 3 Years Ago
      Congrats to everyone that built the first dart. The car has very high expectations to meet. I have faith in dodge. They have a winner.
      luckydaniel1
      • 3 Years Ago
      Awesome, I'm so proud of my hometown. It's about time something is going for us. Hopefully this new Dart can surpass any expectations.
        Hamzah Mahmood
        • 3 Years Ago
        @luckydaniel1
        good luck to your town! I live in MI and it sucked when the plants were closing. seems like everyone is in a better mood now that the industry is back on the rise.
        Gubbins
        • 3 Years Ago
        @luckydaniel1
        Agree, and good luck. Nobody wants to see their hometown die. Glad this has happened and hope that it succeeds well beyond expectations.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Smiley
        • 3 Years Ago
        I'm surprise people voted you down. This isn't a partisan thing, it's a fact. Illinois is the most corrupt state in the union, and has been, for a LONG time. It's not even up for debate. It just shows you how much people hate the truth.
      csrecord
      • 3 Years Ago
      But no brz yet.
      BrunoT
      • 3 Years Ago
      Keep putting Ram truck grilles on your cars. Keep hurtling towards another bankruptcy.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @BrunoT
        [blocked]
      ragtopdodge
      • 3 Years Ago
      Look at those happy American workers. I bet Republicans are sad that they have jobs.
        whofan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ragtopdodge
        I hope there`s a lot of people like you voting on election day. We need to vote for us not foreigners like Republicans are focused on.
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