Sales of the 2013 Dodge Dart fell significantly in November, but Chrysler stresses it's nothing to worry about for such a new car. Last month only 4489 Darts found new homes with customers -- down 17 percent from its 5455 sales in October and down 14 percent compared to the 5235 Dart sales recorded in September. More tellingly, those numbers put the Dart squarely at the bottom of its segment. Nonetheless, Chrysler says that these are merely teething issues for an all-new vehicle and that last month's struggle doesn't spell doom for the 2013 Dodge Dart.
"We're still in launch mode," Chrysler sales and dealer communication spokesman Ralph Kisiel told us.
Kisiel said that early Dodge Dart sales are slow because the factory hasn't yet determined which configurations -- colors, equipment packages, engines, and transmissions -- are most desired by dealerships and customers.
Early on, for instance, the Belvidere, Illinois, factory produced a glut of Dart Rallye models with a 1.4-liter turbo-four engine and manual transmission. We previously learned that Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wanted that configuration to help highlight the Dart's sporting Alfa Romeo heritage. But buyers weren't interested, and instead demanded cars with automatic transmissions and the 2.0-liter "Tigershark" engine.
"There weren't enough automatics out there early on," Kisiel confirmed. He said that the factory is now producing more cars with automatic and dual-clutch transmissions, which are more popular in showrooms. And Chrysler is gradually learning which colors, trim levels, and equipment packages will sell quickly, allowing the factory to build cars that are more likely to attract buyers.
Still, there appears to be a backlog of new cars at the factory or at showrooms. Chrysler data shows that through the end of November, the automaker has built 60,707 2013 Dodge Dart sedans, yet has sold only 19,198 of those cars.
As a result, the 2013 Dodge Dart remains one of the slowest-selling cars in its segment. Of 11 competing compact cars, the Dart took 11th place in the sales race in September, then 10th place in October and November. Last month the Honda Civic sold 30,075 units, the Toyota Corolla sold 22,616, and the Ford Focus sold 18,312 -- all more than four times the volumes recorded by the Dart.
Chrysler, however, remains optimistic that Dart sales will increase as more customers become aware of the all-new car, and as the Belvidere factory produces more cars in appealing configurations with automatic transmissions.