Earlier this year Chrysler announced that the compact Dodge Dart & Chrysler 200 would be discontinued.
I’m saddened because I know these are two good little cars and though the Dart didn’t make sales expectations the 200 did.
But I do know the sales & profit margin are smaller on smaller cars. And right now trucks and SUV’s are hot sellers and have higher margins.
But you’ll never see Toyota stop making the Corolla or Nissan stop making the Sentra, the small car market may have retracted with lower gas prices but in the car business there are niche markets.
That Dart buyer may move up to a Ram truck in a few years, you never know if you don’t get them in the door.
I was able to check out a Dart at the Milwaukee Auto Show (pictured), I admit when it first came out a few years ago I didn’t think much of it.
But the top of the line model (limited), had one of the most comfortable seats I ever sat in. I’m a bigger guy and I drive a lot, a comfy seat means a lot.
The interior is well placed and it feels bigger than it actually is. That’s inherited from its predecessor the Dodge Neon, same great inside feel.
In a lot of ways the car looks & feels like a “baby Charger”, and that’s not a bad thing, it’s a more manageable yet no less luxurious and has some serious performance not to mention wonderful car space and it looks great.
I hope car makers realize those of us that do have SUV’s and trucks (especially those of us with 8 cylinder engines), are looking for a small car to do errands and some commuting when we don’t want to take the “big vehicle” out. True we probably don’t want to buy the small car new but I think there is still a market there.
My late father did this over 10 years ago when gas shot up, he had his full sized GMC Sierra pick up for hauling and a Ford ZX2 for small trips. He saved a lot of money on gas doing that and wear and tear on his truck.
As for the Chrysler 200, five years ago I used to do side work for an auto marketing firm, we used to review cars (it was more than a “focus group” but wasn’t Motor Trend either), check them out, it was pretty cool. The coolest thing we did was get to see models not even on the street yet.
We checked out the Ford Escape when it got its makeover and wasn’t released yet and then we got a “prototype”, we were able to really check it out in its early stages and that car ended up being the Chrysler 200.
It was impressive even as a prototype and was easily better than the other cars we were reviewing and they were finished products and the 200’s doors weren’t even complete yet. We had to be very careful with the prototype but we all knew that would be a great car. Its tech and interior was beating the imports back then.
I know small cars have never been the strong point for American car makers and just now with the Ford Focus (I drove one down in Arizona a couple of years ago, its great), and Chevrolet Cruze (just experienced one last week), the Big 3 are making some headway.
I hope Chrysler reconsiders, they have a couple of great cars that still have an uphill climb but not worth giving up on yet.
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Filed under: Cars