Marchionne on Dodge Dart launch: 'It could have done a lot better'
Jan 14, 2013 (Detroit Free Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said today that he is disappointed with launch of the Dodge Dart because the company has sold fewer than he had hoped.
The Dart is arguably the most important car or truck launched by Chrysler since it the company exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It is Chrysler's first compact car since 2005 when production of the Neon ended and it is the first car to be jointly developed by Fiat and Chrysler.
On Monday, Marchionne said the launch of Dart has not "gone as well as I wanted."
Chrysler sold 25,303 Darts last year after the car went on sale in July. The Dart competes with popular cars such as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze. In 2012, sales of all of those models easily toped 200,000 with the Civic as the top-seller with sales of more than 317,000.
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Marchionne acknowledged that Dart's sales have been hurt by engine and transmission combinations that have left the car feeling underpowered.
"We are working diligently now to expand the powertrain options," Marchionne said.
Soon, Marchionne said the Dart's power and performance will be improved when the company introduces a nine-speed transmission on models with manual transmissions.
Chrysler is launching a replacement for the Jeep Liberty with a nine-speed transmission this year.
"The car is a perfect car, there is nothing wrong with it structurally, it is the best car that we built here other than the Grand Cherokee," Marchionne said "It will do well, it could have done a lot better."
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