Hidden amidst the overall very positive sales figures that Chrysler released earlier this week were a few disappointments, the biggest of which may be the Dodge Dart. While Dodge sales in general were down 11 percent from a year ago, the Dart's poor figures stood out from the rest – with 4,888 units sold, the Dart was down 37 percent in February.

It comes as little surprise, then, that the automaker has announced layoffs at its assembly plant in Belvidere, IL. According to The Daily Herald, Dodge will temporarily lay off 325 workers "to balance vehicle supply with current sales demand." Put more simply, there are more Darts than buyers at the moment...

We don't think the Dodge Dart is a bad car, but it's playing in a market that offers a few standout sellers, like the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. According to AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan, as quoted by The Daily Herald, "great incentives on the Dodge Avenger" are also partly to blame for the Dart's poor showing.

In any case, these layoffs are supposed to last for a week, after which all three shifts of Dart production will presumably resume.


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  • 221 Comments
      carguy1701
      • 9 Months Ago
      The Dart's faults lie mostly under the hood. The Tigershark branding can't hide the World Engine roots. New engines are needed.
      MechE
      • 9 Months Ago
      Keep trying Dodge. Dont give up and let the car languish. The car needs something to standout like a better powertrain or best in class EPA. It also lacks good advertising so it's not on many people's radar.
      helloac
      • 9 Months Ago
      i don't know why they didn't discontinue the avenger as soon as this car came to market. dealers were cannibalizing dart sales by heavily discounting avengers. i think the sales will pick up once the avenger stock is gone.
        Camaroman101
        • 9 Months Ago
        @helloac
        exactly right
        CJ_313
        • 9 Months Ago
        @helloac
        Avengers haven't sold in any noteworthy retail numbers in quite a while. The Avenger has little to do with the Dart selling poorly.
          CJ_313
          • 9 Months Ago
          @CJ_313
          @ CEC: You really should ask yourself how plausible it is that someone interested in a Dodge Dart would end up in a Chrysler 200. The odds are low. Despite the 200 & Avenger being nearly identical under the skin, they do cater to somewhat different buyers & are much more likely to be cross-shopped with each other rather than the 200 would be with the Dart. Your theory is unlikely; sales of the Dart are hardly dictated by the 200, and only marginally by the Avenger.
          CJ_313
          • 9 Months Ago
          @CJ_313
          Based on your last comment, you're more clueless than I originally thought. You seem to take your own speculations as being factual. I was under the impression that you knew our entire conversation of this topic was theoretical. I've been using simple marketing knowledge (and common sense) to base a more-likely-than-not scenario on why the Avenger/200 have a negligible effect on Dart sales, while you simply use your dreams & fantasies apparently. You have been on the wrong side of right from the beginning of this "debate", and I see now that there is no reasoning with you. Feel free to down-vote this comment and up-vote your own like you have the rest. Goodbye CEC.
          CEC
          • 9 Months Ago
          @CJ_313
          CJ, Maybe you should clarify how a two cars (Avenger and 200) that are the same size, same price, SAME INTERIOR, same drive trains, same driving dynamics, and sold in the same dealerships; cater to different buyers. My theory might be unlikely but yours isn't true. The only way yours might be plausible is if the 200 was sold at different dealers then the Dart. With my theory a person looking at a Dart sees a larger, more powerful vehicle in the same price range as the Dart (Avenger), gets more interested in that value, but doesn't like the styling can always be talked into looking at a 200 as well, because it has the same value as the Avenger. For your theory (200s not affecting Dart sales) to be plausible a person that goes into a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer is going in them to specifically buy a 200. Hardly anybody goes into CDJR dealers looking specifically to by a current 200. They go in looking to buy a Charger or a 300 but can't afford one, or they go in looking at a Dart, but find a possible better value with the Avenger or 200.
          CJ_313
          • 9 Months Ago
          @CJ_313
          @ CEC: "Maybe you should clarify how a two cars (Avenger and 200) that are the same size, same price, SAME INTERIOR, same drive trains, same driving dynamics, and sold in the same dealerships; cater to different buyers." That is a question that you should be able to answer yourself Captain Obvious. They aren't clones, they do have completely different exterior styling & configurations for a reason (the 200 is/was the only convertible offering, for instance). They are meant to appeal to different buyers, and they do for the most part. Now, let's take a good look at the Dart. Then let's take a good look at the 200. What type of consumer do you think would cross-shop them? Someone initially interested in the Dart, a compact car with sporty pretensions & relatively fun/youthful styling, likely will not be interested in the much more mature, less fun/youthful Chrysler 200. Am I saying those types of situations don't happen? No. I said that they are highly unlikely. What you said regarding the Charger/300 is probably what gives the Avenger/200 a good chunk of retail sales, and is much more likely than a Dart buyer being upsold to a Chrysler 200. Don't forget that we are both speaking theoretically here, i.e. what is more likely than not.
          CEC
          • 9 Months Ago
          @CJ_313
          You are wrong, get over it. The 200/Avenger have: Same Platform, Same Drive Trains, Same Price, Same Interiors, Same Electronics, Same Dealership = They sell to the same people. There is NOTHING that separate these vehicles from on another besides exterior styling. But when they are both 4 doors they play to the same buyer. Sure the Avenger might be marketed for the more sporty, but when the 200S plays that card as well, it nullifies the marketing. You damn right I think the buying public is stupid. Look at how many Corollas get sold. As for looking at a Dart and walking out with a better valued 200/Avenger, yes it happens ALL THE TIME, because $$$ talks!!! I don't know why you don't get that. People looking at Darts (an economy car) are value minded, so when they see a larger car with more power at a better price, that is a better economic choice. For those that believe the Dart marketing and buy into is "sportier" image, why buy Dart when a V6 200/Avenger, that can be had at the same price as a Dart, absolutely clobbers the Dart in performance. Worst of all, they can both be bought at the same dealer as a Dart. Current 200 sales are eating Dart sales as much as, or more then, the Avenger sales are.
          CEC
          • 9 Months Ago
          @CJ_313
          When they first came out, the cars may have been meant for different buyers, but they have so many similarities that the buyers are the same, why else would the Avenger be killed off? Because they play in the exact same field to the exact same buyers. BTW the cars are also packaged the same. For every blacktop Avenger their is a similarly equipped 200S. Speaking of 200S that is a "car with sporty pretensions & relatively fun/youthful styling" just like a person who want to buy a Dart is looking for.
      Quen47
      • 9 Months Ago
      I didn't really understand why Fiat / Chrysler made the Dart sedan only and then made it nearly as big as the Avenger and gave the mainstream model a tiny turbocharged engine that only work well with a manual transmission. Someone at FCA doesn't understand the American market.
      icemilkcoffee
      • 9 Months Ago
      What they need is something like a Dart SRT, with a big turbo engine, just like the old Neon SRT4. It won't sell a whole lot, but it will inject a good dose of excitement into the lineup.
      D By
      • 9 Months Ago
      I have a 2013 Dart Limited with the 6 speed auto and 2.0 Tigershark- owned it for 14 months now. No major problems at all and it has been an enjoyable car after my 17 month disaster owning a 2012 Cruze LT. The Cruze just sucked and GM is still the old GM when it came to support and dealing with customer service- my poor dealer tried to fix it but GM's own engineers couldn't figure it out. The had 17 months to figure out why the Cruze smelled like coolant and couldn't fix it and I got the Dart after GM bought the car back. The Dart has been excellent for me after 23,000 miles and I don't find the auto with the Tigershark 2.0 slow at all.- the auto shifts smooth (unlike the Hydramatic 6sp in the Cruze) and the engine does have a lot of passing power (something the Cruze's 1.4 turbo lacked). I find it interesting that the Kia Forte is also selling poorly (despite being a good car)- both cars are very similar when it comes to the content you get for the money. Was Sergio correct in saying the Dart has too much content? I also want to say that those who are saying the 200 and Avenger are taking sales away from the Dart are most likely correct- with incentives and financing you can get a bigger car for the same or maybe less. Once the new 200 comes out and the Avenger is gone, I bet sales will be up.
      Ale
      • 9 Months Ago
      http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/03/book-rates-dart-best-bet
      domingorobusto
      • 9 Months Ago
      A friend of mine just bought a Dart, a new 2013 (yeah, they still have a bunch of new 2013s), a black 1.4T automatic Rallye. Observations: The automatic sort of sucks. It's hunty and slow to react. The 1.4 is surprisingly ballsy little engine, but you have to keep it on a boil for it to make power (nothing happening below about 3500 rpm), and the transmission does not suit this mission well, as it is always and forever short shifting you down to around 2000 rpm. So you stab the throttle, nothing happens, nothing happens, it realizes finally that you want some power, it sluggishly drops 2 gears, and then it moves out reasonably smartly. With a stick it's a pretty quick and enjoyable drivetrain. With the auto that everyone actually buys in America, it's not very good. Which kind of sucks, because it rides well, handling is actually pretty lively, it's pretty spacious, and I think they look pretty good. The interior is kind of plasticky, but everything actually feels pretty good and doesn't look half bad. It's a good car, but it needs a better automatic. It just comes across as a little forgettable. I'd rather have a Focus.
      cadetgray
      • 9 Months Ago
      Imagine if we had free trade with the producer of most imported manufactured goods the the US.....China. Part of the Dodge Dart underused factory capacity could have been allocated to build the China market Fiat Viaggio which is based on the Dart. It would have kept a few more American families working. But then our government would have to do something rather radical and think about the best interests of its citizens and play tough with China. I doubt that will happen since we have to borrow Chinese money to buy their crap anyway...lol. Sad. Actually, I wouldn't mind them building a version of the Viaggio or it's 5 door hatch version for our US Fiat dealers. It wouldn't cost much and it would give them another attractive model to sell. Plus a Fiat would not be competing with deeply discounted Avengers and 200's across the showroom floor. OR, put the Viaggio front clip on the Dodge. The only part of the Dart's styling I've heard criticized is the pointy crosshair front end. Swap out the red Fiat badge for a resurrected funky Dodge Fratzog emblem and you're done basically. The crosshair motif should have never been used by Dodge anyway, but should have been reserved for the model where it originated...the Chrysler 300 letter series from 1960-65.
      mbukukanyau
      • 9 Months Ago
      seems to me its time to go pick up a cheap green commuter ride with lots of options
      aruca2526
      • 9 Months Ago
      It's really a shame that the Dart hasn't fared better. I really had high hopes for this car. None of its shortcomings should have that great effect on the average buyer, and it's far better than past Dodge compacts, as well as the Avenger/200. Personally, when it did get in one at the auto show there was something left to be desired.
      Steve
      • 9 Months Ago
      It's styling is just like the others. Civic, Corolla, Sentra, etc. What is the problem is so many options and too many models with lack luster engines. Cut the models to 4. One, basic fuel economizer. Second, mid model, lots of standard equipment and the 2.4 litre four and good automatic tranny or a good six speed. Nine speed should be coming. Third model should a high end luxo model. 2.4 litre and an auto. Loads of standard equipment and few options. 4th model, top of the line SRT4. Turbo 4, manual and auto option, 4 wheel drive, new Cherokee platform, loads of standard equipment. This model can compete with VW GTI, Mitsu Evo, Subaru STi, and could be a really rally car. Quality interior and exterior and it needs to get into the JD Powers and Consumer Reports Quality vehicle reports. Sergio has a hand full, but, needs to concentrate on it's cars for Dodge and Chrysler. These divisions need to be defined and quickly.
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