CARS.COM — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Wednesday it plans to cut the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans as it shifts focus to more-profitable pickup trucks and SUVs.
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Sergio Marchionne, the automaker’s CEO, told reporters FCA will “withdraw the current 200 and Dodge Dart from the marketplace over a prolonged period of time,” according to the Detroit News. FCA spokeswoman Jodi Tinson confirmed the comments today to Cars.com.
Both cars may not be around for long. AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan expects that “prolonged period of time” to be sooner, not later.
“They’re probably going to be gone in probably two years at the most,” Sullivan told Cars.com, noting the “very carefully chosen words about the 200 and Dart. Yeah, ‘run their course’ — that means they’re going to go, and we’re going to replace them with trucks.”
In a 21-page investor report, the automaker also said it would scale back the rollout of its Alfa Romeo brand, with a midsize SUV due in 2016 or 2017 and several more cars — including two utility vehicles, two specialty cars, a hatchback and a full-size car — due by 2020. That’s a significant delay for Alfa, which had been on track for its gaggle of new cars by 2018. It’s unclear how many will come to the U.S., given current international models such as the MiTo subcompact and Giulietta hatchback aren’t available here.
“We’re not talking about brands with a huge depth or breadth of product,” Sullivan said of Alfa Romeo’s U.S. presence. “The amount of money that they wanted to spend on Alfa was staggering. I take it as [a sign that] they are conserving cash.”
FCA’s report also said the next-gen Ram 1500 pickup eventually will get “mild hybrid” capabilities, while a next-generation four-door Wrangler will come with “next-gen powertrains,” including diesel and hybrid options. The timing for these cars wasn’t immediately clear, however.
FCA is focusing on trucks and SUVs, which generally are more profitable than cars. Amid low gas prices, popularity has surged: Truck, van and SUV sales gained 12.8 percent in 2015, according to Automotive News, while car sales fell 2.3 percent. With brands such as Jeep and Ram, it’s little wonder that trucks, vans and SUVs accounted for more than three-fourths of FCA sales in 2015.
“Looking longer-term, they really didn’t talk about crossovers — they didn’t talk about [a Dodge] Journey replacement,” Sullivan said. “They only talked about the things that make money. They talked about pickups and Jeeps.”
That doesn’t completely shut the door on cars like the Dart and 200. According to the Detroit News, Marchionne said FCA was open to replacing the cars, at least initially, with products built by another automaker.