Fiat Chrysler to Discontinue Chrysler 200, Dodge Dart to Focus on SUVs and Trucks [News]

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne announced Wednesday that his company will shift its focus over the next few years away from sedans and toward SUVs and trucks.

Specifically, the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan and the Dodge Dart compact sedan will finish out their model run without a replacement. Marchionne said that the company will focus more on the Jeep and Ram brands after strong sales performances for both.

2015 dodge dart
2015 Dodge Dart

According to an article in The Detroit News, FCA had a difficult time keeping up with demand for Ram trucks and Jeep SUVs while having to heavily incentivize its sedans to get them to move off dealer lots.

The move might be a good short-term plan for the brand, as 2015 sales numbers show a trend toward SUVs and crossovers, and away from midsize sedans. Cheap gas is also helping sales of trucks and SUVs as $2-a-gallon gas makes larger trucks and SUVs more appealing.

The company’s best sellers in 2015 were both Jeeps, the Cherokee and the Wrangler. The Chrysler 200, meanwhile, didn’t have as strong of a sales year as expected despite a 52 percent increase over 2014. The Dodge Dart’s sales were also disappointing. Toyota sold almost four Corollas for every Dart sold in 2015.

Marchionne blames shifting consumer tastes for the lack of sedan sales, but it could just be that his company’s vehicles just aren’t as competitive as they could be. Honda and Toyota both prove that sedans can still sell and be profitable if they’re good enough.

2016 Chrysler 200S
2016 Chrysler 200S

He also said that FCA will be open to partnering with another company to fill the gaps in the company’s lineup that’ll be left when the 200 and Dart bow out.

Since Fiat purchased Chrysler, the company has diluted their brands to the point where only Jeep and Ram have any kind of identity. In the past, Dodge was the mainstream, volume brand and Chrysler was the luxury brand. Fiat-Chrysler planned on making Chrysler the mainstream brand, which is understandable as Chrysler vehicles were sold as Chryslers in Europe, even if they were Dodges in the U.S.

However, the result has been confusion, as Dodge is now both a mainstream brand and a performance brand, and Chrysler is both a mainstream brand and a luxury brand. If consumers can’t relate to a brand, they won’t buy it. This, combined with a non-linear model lineup and cars that fall short of the competition, are both plausible reasons why the company’s sedans haven’t sold well.

What do you think of FCA’s new plan? Start the conversation in the comments below.

Check out this TFLcar video of the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan: