Dealers sell 202 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye demonstration models in June
The Chrysler Group expects that the 2013 Dodge Dart will be a massive popularity when it hits dealerships at full steam later this month. In an interesting move, Chrysler decided to send the first Darts to dealerships one at a time – with each dealership driving home their first 2013 Dart from “drive away” events around the country. These models were all identical, presumably so that there would be no difference between the cars each dealership got and every Dart driven to dealerships last month was a Redline 2 Coat Pearl Metallic Rallye model powered by the 1.4L turbocharged Fiat engine and mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. While these models were sent to dealerships with the intention of being demonstration models, a Chrysler representative has confirmed that dealers were permitted to sell this first Dart like they would any other vehicle.
At the month’s end, 202 of those dealerships who made the trek to their nearest Dart drive away event opted to go ahead and sell their 2013 Dodge Dart. This number could have been much higher if not for the fact that these Darts were fitted with a manual transmission or if more dealerships were willing to sell their first Dart. I have spoken with a handful of consumers who made trips to their local Dodge dealerships – some of whom were disappointed to find the Dart sold (thus unavailable to check out) while others were turned off by the fact that they are fitted with manual transmissions. However, those dealerships that are unwilling to see their first 2013 Dart until they have more on the lot are receiving tons of traffic to check out the new car whether the people can drive a stickshift or not.
Why are the first 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye models all manual transmissions?
Those prospective consumers interested in the 2013 Dodge Dart who have arrived at a dealership only to find out that they are unable to drive a manual transmission have questioned me about why Dodge would pick a manual transmission for all of the demonstration Darts. It is no secret that manual transmissions are slowly fading from the automotive landscape in the US and with fewer and fewer manual transmission models available each year – new drivers have much less exposure to the manual transmissions.
The Chrysler Group knows that but they also know that the Dart drivetrain setup combining the 1.4L MultiAir Fiat engine and the 6-speed manual transmission is both the most efficient configuration and the most powerful. Having driven all of the variants of the 2013 Dodge Dart headed to dealerships later this month, I don’t question why these demo models are 1.4L turbo/manual transmission models as this is also the most inspiring version of the Dart to drive – at least until the Dart R/T arrives later this year. It should also be pointed out that the 1.4L Fiat motor is not currently available with an automatic transmission in the Dart so if they wanted to include the powerful turbocharged motor – they had to use a manual transmission. This is bad news for those who cannot drive a manual transmission but as the most entertaining drivetrain in the current Dart models – Chrysler made the right call picking the sportiest, most efficient and most powerful configuration for the first Dart demo models.
Why aren’t some dealerships willing to sell their first 2013 Dodge Dart?
I have spoken with some dealership representatives who explained that their one Dart was not for sale because the benefit of having a Dart on the lot for consumers to experience is important leading up to the full scale production launch of the Dart later this month. These are typically larger dealerships who are likely to get a great many Dart sedans early in the production run so exposing their customers to the Dart first hand is likely to generate more interest in purchases when they begin getting truckloads of Darts. Say that there are two large Dodge dealerships in a given area, both of which will likely get a good number of Darts when they beginning hitting dealerships in numbers later this month and early in August. If one large dealership sells their 2013 Dart Rallye demonstration model and the other does not – the dealer with a Dart sitting on their lot is likely to have an advantage in attracting customers who are in turn likely to put money down on a Dart when they arrive this month.
In short, big dealerships who don’t think that they will have any problem getting Darts from the Illinois factory believe that it is better to be patient and that patience will be repaid with better sales figures in the future.