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Marchionne on Dodge Dart launch: 'It could have done a lot better'

TMCNet:  Marchionne on Dodge Dart launch: 'It could have done a lot better'

[January 14, 2013]

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.

-- CAR & TRUCK OF YEAR: Cadillac ATS, Ram 1500 honored as North American car, truck of the year -- LIVE BLOG: Follow all the action from press preview days -- FULL COVERAGE: Visit freep.com/autoshow 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." More coverage Facebook: Follow us at Facebook.com/detroitfreepress and Facebook.com/freepautos for the latest auto show photos & videos! Twitter: Follow @freep & @freepautos with hashtag #naias. For live coverage, follow our Twitter list: http://twitter.com/freepautos/detroit-auto-show Live blog: Follow the action at Cobo on Freep.com with our live blog Instagram: We'll be Instagram-blogging on Freep.com; also follow @detroitfreepress with hashtag #naias for more On your phone: Download the Detroit Free Press app on your iPad, iPhone or Android phone and tap on "Auto Show" for complete coverage ___ (c)2013 the Detroit Free Press Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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