Fiat-Chrysler has read the tea leaves, seeing the real problems the company is having with slow selling passenger car sales compared to strong van, SUV and truck sales. As, one example, the Jeep Division now accounts for 44% of the company sales while passenger car sales lag badly. Despite spending $1 billion in production costs to convert the Alfa Romeo Giuletta 940 into the very nice quality Dodge Dart, which has gained high safety and other ratings, the car is being discontinued after just three model years because of weak sales, where Jeep Wrangler production will take over the assembly plant. A new version of the Dodge Neon, which is imported from Turkey and Mexico based on the Fiat Tipo will replace the Dart which ceases production in September. After this model year, both the $87,000 V10 powered Dodge Viper and the Chrysler 200 will be discontinued, with Fiat- Chrysler’s main passenger car fleet consisting of the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300 and Fiat 500 representing much of their passenger car offerings.
One advantage of the Fiat Tipo sold as the new Neon is that it includes both sedan as well as crossover models, giving Fiat-Chrysler another new truck model to market compared to the sedan based Dart models.
While vans may not be everyone’s idea of a first choice in transportation, Chrysler has established a solid reputation for quality vans over many years, and has been rewarded with strong sales in that market for dependable and quality vans. With excellent visibility and the ability to carry a lot of cargo or passengers, van sales have been strong enough for Fiat-Chrysler to use comic Jim Gaffigan in an ongoing series of TV ads to promote vans built by the company.
As an industry whole, truck sales are the largest portion of the new vehicle market, but for Chrysler, their truck, crossover vehicle and van sales far outdistance their lagging passenger car sales, where the company is apparently responding with less new passenger car offerings in the near future and more Fiat-based imports, as customers more and more look to purchase a new truck of some sort from the company as their 1st choice.