The Civic-fighting Dodge Dart and the recently redesigned Chrysler 200 sedan will be phased out of their respective lineups in the next 18 months, so that FCA can build more popular – and profitable – Jeep and Ram models, said Sergio Marchionne recently.
Speaking to investors and analysts on a conference call, Marchionne said lower gas prices have fueled a fundamental shift in North America away from cars, and more towards crossovers, SUVs and pickups.
The news is so dramatic because FCA has invested heavily in both those cars, with US$1.6 billion invested in the two cars and plants that build them, as reported by The Detroit Free Press. Both were amongst the fresher products in the corporation’s lineup, with the Dart introduced in 2012 and the 200 mid-size sedan in 2014, especially in contrast to products like the Dodge Grand Caravan and FCA’s full-size sedans and coupes.
Marchionne did reportedly leave open the possibility that the cars could be re-introduced to market after their withdrawal, if it found an outside partner to build them. This has left some analysts concerned that FCA will be over-exposed to the truck and SUV market, potentially hurting the company if gas prices rise dramatically and consumers move back to more fuel-efficient cars, as happened when fuel prices last spiked in 2008.