FCA Killing Off Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200 in Favor of Trucks and SUVs

2016_chrysler_200

Could you imagine Ford discontinuing the Fusion? Or Mazda doing away with the Mazda3?

Of course not. Those are core models for the brands and it would be complete insanity to cancel them without an improved replacement ready to go.

Chrysler, now FCA, spent years fine-tuning its core sedans. The Chrysler 200 began life as the Sebring and has since become a respectable entry in the compact sedan market. The Dodge Dart resurrected a cherished name from the past and is the FIAT-based sedan that Americans hoped would arrive when the Italians bought out Chrysler.

The cars aren’t record-setting sales superstars, but they do fill an important hole in the company’s lineup. Not having an entry in the compact sedan segment is akin to suicide in the mainstream auto industry.

Yet FCA is doing the unthinkable: Canceling the 200 and the Dart, without any concrete plans to replace them.

Why is this happening?

It’s happening because FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne is a smart man who wants his company to make a lot of money. He knows that people want SUVs, trucks, and crossovers, not mediocre compact sedans.

Marchionne believes this shift to crossovers is permanent. He must also believe that gas prices will remain relatively low for the foreseeable future, because sales of trucks, SUVs, and crossovers always spike when gas drops below $2 per gallon.

For FCA, the removal of the 200 and the Dart leaves room to build more of what consumers currently want: Jeep SUVs and Ram trucks. The decision will also leave the Chrysler brand with just two entries, the new Pacifica minivan and the 300 sedan. At this point, why not send those to Dodge and do away with the Chrysler brand entirely?

There is talk already that FCA could replace the cancelled sedans with rebadged vehicles from another automaker, but we don’t know yet if that will happen or what cars might be involved. For now, all we know is that FCA is ditching the compact sedan market in favor of the more profitable trucks and SUVs, a gamble that will only pay off if gas prices stay where they are or continue to fall.

Will your next car be a truck, a crossover/SUV, or a sedan?

-tgriffith

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