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Dealers sell 202 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye demonstration models in June

Last month, the Chrysler Group began handing dealerships all over the country their first 2013 Dodge Dart demonstration model and as the month came to an end, 202 of those dealerships opted to sell their first Dart but the number could have been much higher had a few things been different.

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.

Why are some dealerships so quick to sell their first 2013 Dodge Dart?
While some large dealerships who are confident that keeping their first 2013 Dodge Dart now to help spur sales in greater numbers down the road, some other, generally smaller dealerships are concerned that they won’t be getting enough product to satisfy the demand. These dealerships are more likely to sell their first Dart because they just don’t know when they are going to get significant numbers of them later this month. It makes sense to keep the first Dart on the lot when you want to show the car off to hundreds of people who are likely to buy a Dart later this month but for dealerships who don’t know when they will be getting their first significant batch of Darts – selling the demonstration model is the better choice.

The downfall to the quick sale is that other prospective customers in the area of a dealership who has quickly sold their first 2013 Dodge Dart Rallye demo model may not be able to see the car right away and as such – they might go elsewhere to make their purchase. For those lucky enough to live near another Dodge dealership with more access to Dart sedans soon this isn’t so much of a problem but other consumers may go to other automakers when they cannot get their hands on a Dart right away.

In any case, we can expect to see the sales numbers for the 2013 Dodge Dart be quite a bit higher than the 202 units sold in June 2012. Chrysler expects to begin full scale deliveries later this month but early on, the sales of the Dart could be limited by production capacity as the Belvidere plant works to meet the early demand.


Anonymous (not verified)    July 15, 2012 - 12:14PM

I went to see it and even test drove it. I couldn't believe that the demo car already had the screwed in front plate holder attached to the front bumper. I live in Pa and we don't require the silly front plate, and it ruins the front appearence of ANY nice looking car. Really dumb - and it shows the lack of intelligence and concern over what consumers think about cars.
Also, the turbo seemed almost non-existant. It did not feel even remotely powerful. So, what would a lower price non turbo feel like? Wow. The display screen for nav and info was way too big and distracting while driving. It looked more like a movie display screen.
The rear wheels/tires looked "engulfed" by a large squat rear fender above and around them. Very odd considering these were decent sized wheels and tires.
The front looks good straight on, as does the rear. Bravo. The rest is just bland power and bland styling. I suggest cut the losses now and try again. And when they do, please leave the front plate holders in the trunk for whoever the purchaser will be. Thanks for listening - and please - stop being stupid.

Anonymous (not verified)    August 26, 2012 - 3:59AM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Do you not know how to drive a manual? I drove one and it's significantly quicker than most cars in the same class I've driven (Honda Civic, Chevy Cruze...) As for shape, its not a Ferrari but its does have a good drag coefficient, which goes toward what it's made for, economy. Im not a total Dodge fan but after driving one I must admit its a good car, great chassis and road-keeping.

DartUpYourAzz (not verified)    September 23, 2012 - 5:28AM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

So the Screen is TOO BIG...huh. Are you mentally challenged or just plain elderly. The idea of the big screen is to be class leading. Young people will appreciate it. Just stick with your Buick.. you old fart. Or Kia if you are a cheap re-tar-ted old fart.

Anonymous (not verified)    December 26, 2012 - 6:11AM

In reply to by DartUpYourAzz (not verified)

Keep in mind that old farts buy more Corvettes and Vipers than any other demographic. The old Buick comparison is worn out. Grow up. And when you do, realize that even when targeting young people, tech toys are old scholl now. In other words, the interior and dash should be captivating, not pole dancer smudged lipstick trashaye! The race track rear lighting shoule be standard. That would be a huge positive. If you want an Ipad glued to your dash, I guess to each his own. But I guess it gives someone like you a playtime toy at recess.......