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William Maley

Dodge News: Are Manual Transmissions To Blame For The Dodge Dart Slow Sales?

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William Maley

Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

August 30, 2012

Sales of the Dodge Dart have been lackluster. For the first two months, Dodge has only sold 974 Darts. This would be ok if the Dart was a high-end luxury vehicle, not a vehicle competing in the highly contested compact market.

Dealers say the reason for the slow sales is the majority of Darts being equipped with a manual transmission.

"We were just told that [the automatics] weren't ready yet.We were a little surprised by it," Mr. Kelleher added. "We're a little bit out of the water with stick [shifts]. We sell so few of them," said David Kelleher, owner of a Chrysler dealership in Glen Mills, Pa.

"A great majority of our customers who walk by the Dart are declining the manual," said Tamara Darvish, vice president of Darcars Automotive Group, a chain of 34 new-car franchises based in Silver Spring, Md.

Reid Bigland, Dodge's chief executive explained that Chrysler began building the manual-transmission Darts to get the factory ramped up, but it has now added automatics to the line. Bigland says that 70% of Darts being built are equipped with the automatic.

Bigland goes on to say that the company expects to sell 3,000 Darts for August.

Source: Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.


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Lack of automatic tranny would also explain the lack of marketing of the dart. Since most in this country cannot drive a manual, but with 70% now being built with an automatic, that should change and I expect it to with the auto being built and shipped out. Lets take the Sept to Dec as a real test of if the dart is a true competitor.

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because nobody knows how to drive a manual.

but honestly, hve any of you seen any Dart commercials or advertisements outside of a car mag? or even in one for that matter?

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It's a neat little car, but seriously let down by the interior quality. I used to run around with a girl before I stated dating my wife, back in the bad old days of the 1980's. Her father loved the new Chryco stuff of 1984-1985. Forget which forgettable 80's Chryco product he ended up with.

Every time I get into a Dart, I'm pulled back to being 18 years old and riding in an 80's Mopar product. And not in a good way.

It's better than the Caliber, but so is a 400,000 mile Crown Vic Taxi that Lindsay Lohan has just Vomited in....

Nice looking car....but I see a Focus ST in my future, or a GTI, or an FR-S/BR-Z, ....or the next gen Miata. Not the Dart. Not at 23K esp...with that interior quality.

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because nobody knows how to drive a manual.

but honestly, hve any of you seen any Dart commercials or advertisements outside of a car mag? or even in one for that matter?

We've always had Manuals, pretty much....

But I am thinking that I might actually buy an automatic, as my sixteen year old daughter can drive Manual but prefers not to, and I am not sure that my eleven year old will want to learn manual when the time comes.

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I must be missing something because most reviews I've seen praise the interior. Sure teh lower trim levels are what they are, but by the time you get to Limited and Rally trim levels its a really nice place to be.

edmunds seems to think so too.

The Dodge Dart features one of the nicest cabins in its class, and it only gets nicer as you move up the trim level ladder. Whereas competitors just add leather upholstery or some fake metal trim to improve the ambience, the Dart actually slathers on extra padded surfaces, dash stitching and flares of colorful trim. To be honest, a loaded Dart Limited really doesn't feel like it belongs in the small sedan class.

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Seems to me that the headline should have read Lack of automatic transmissions leads to slow sales start for Dodge Dart

Just sayin'.

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I hope the Dart does well. I will for sure check one out. But the exterior styling doesn't connect fully with me, and it's too much a reminder of the Neon. The interior has high points and stuff but then has the mismatched steering wheel.

The Dart connects in a lot of ways, lots of options, lower trims well priced, interesting powertrains, space, etc. The Dart may end up having a slow launch and may end up being a word of mouth type of car. I hope the alfa bits hold up and don't end up falling apart.

It's a better effort than expected for Chrysler I think, but they need to have good press and a strong launch.

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Funny, the only Dart I'd consider would be a manual. I haven't been inside one, but poking my nose to the glass on several, and then running my hands over the leather seats in the showroom, I really like the Dart interior.

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I must be missing something because most reviews I've seen praise the interior. Sure teh lower trim levels are what they are, but by the time you get to Limited and Rally trim levels its a really nice place to be.

edmunds seems to think so too.

The Dodge Dart features one of the nicest cabins in its class, and it only gets nicer as you move up the trim level ladder. Whereas competitors just add leather upholstery or some fake metal trim to improve the ambience, the Dart actually slathers on extra padded surfaces, dash stitching and flares of colorful trim. To be honest, a loaded Dart Limited really doesn't feel like it belongs in the small sedan class.

I'll have to check the higher trim levels out, as I really like the exterior of the car, and the seats are rather comfortable.

Good luck to Dodge selling this, as it is actually other than interior a promising product, I think.

Funny, the only Dart I'd consider would be a manual. I haven't been inside one, but poking my nose to the glass on several, and then running my hands over the leather seats in the showroom, I really like the Dart interior.

I'll check one out with leather, then.

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I test drove a Dart Multiair 1.4T 6M a couple days ago. The majority of the vehicles on the lot had a manual transmission.

It's a stylish looking car, but the powertrain really lets it down. Tons of turbo lag, lots of accessory noise from the engine compartment, weird feeling clutch, overly touchy brakes, and sloppy shifter. No rear seat headroom, either.

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saw one today, didn't sit in it, but stuck my head in it and touched some plastic. rear seat leg room looked a little tight. door panels looked sorta spartan, dash had an interesting motif to a point but incohesive.

Neon 2.0 is not my cup of tea, but for Chrysler it's a big improvement on the Caliber.

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In my town they are advertising it as "with an unbelievable 58 MPG highway!!!!"

And they have one with 58MPG stickered onto the side, ill get a picture tomorrow

spoiler alert they use british gallons for the measure so it's 18 mpg above what it should be, and what it will say on the DIC

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TDI VW can barely hit 58 highway, as can a Prius under just the right conditions...

I am pretty much call BS on this one.

Dart is a really nice looking car, though.

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British Gallons.

1 US G = 1.20095 US. G

It's a trick, because we don't actually use british gallons so people assume this thing gets prius mileage

The Canadian TV stations have ECOBoost F-150 commercials with 30 MPG* HWY on them in big letters

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So when will the automatics be released? Then we will see if the Dart is actually competitive.

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Darts are taking off in Seattle. Larson Auto Group and the over all Dodge dealers are showing off in TV commercials the Manual Dart and clearly telling people if you are into performance and want maximum gas mileage, then come test drive the Dodge Dart. They also clearly say they are taking orders for the Dart with Automatic tranny available starting in Oct.

Does not seem to be stopping them from aggressively selling the Dart.

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They really need to come out swinging with this...despite my critique of the interior, it seems like a great car.

It's on my short list of cars to drive next time I am in the market for one...

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Guest SFrancisco

I think the styling is really dated. They took a really cool looking Italian car and made it completely uninteresting to look at. It looks so much like a Neon from the early 90's. Are they kidding? The focus is running circles around it because it is a much better looking car inside and out. Oh... and that Dart interior is the worst part.

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