Dodge Hornet Interior

Dodge Hornet Interior

Dodge Hornet Interior

2013 Dodge Dart Review
by Chris Poole
The “40-mpg” compact car promised by the Fiat-Chrysler alliance is coming soon to replace the Dodge Caliber. With Italian brio inherited from a sporty Alfa Romeo, the Dart should be causing much buzz. Some thought Dodge's new compact would be dubbed Hornet, but Dodge has decided to go with Dart, a name used on well-respected Dodge compacts in the past.

What We Know About the 2013 Dodge Dart

The highly symbolic first joint-venture vehicle from the Fiat-Chrysler alliance is heading to showrooms as the 2013 replacement for the Dodge Caliber compact car. Essentially a restyled, reengineered version of the sporty front-wheel-drive Alfa Romeo Giulietta 4-door hatchback, the new U.S.-built model will be the 2013 Dodge Dart.
The 2013 Dodge Dart will demonstrate whether Fiat-Chrysler can deliver fuel-efficient small cars that will be popular--and profitable--in a highly competitive market that already offers many worthy choices. But though expected for over two years, the Dart is not one of the industry’s worst-kept secrets, because it wasn’t a secret in the first place.

By way of background, Italy’s Fiat Auto successfully lobbied to lead Chrysler Group LLC out of bankruptcy by taking over management duties and sharing its small-car technology in exchange for a 20-percent share of the American automaker. Chrysler’s creditors, including the U.S. and Canadian governments, also agreed to let Fiat increase its stake--again with no money down--by meeting three “performance milestones.” Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne delivered on the first two with dispatch, setting up U.S. production of the fuel-efficient 1.4-liter engine that powers the 2012 Fiat 500 subcompact car, and expanding Chrysler’s overseas sales base by adding select Chrysler models (or variations) to Fiat’s worldwide dealer network. A U.S.-built “40-mpg compact car” was the third milestone, hence the 2013 Dodge Dart, which may begin go-slow pilot production toward the end of 2011 at Chrysler’s Belvidere, Illinois plant.

Meantime, Fiat paid off its government loans six years ahead of schedule and exercised a separate stock-purchase option to claim 53.5 percent of Chrysler as of June 2011. This will rise to about 58 percent if the Dart earns the stipulated 40-mpg EPA highway fuel-economy rating. The rest of Chrysler still belongs to the United Auto Workers Union health-care trust that was set up in 2007, ironically with an eye to averting a Chrysler bankruptcy.

Updated 01.10.2012 by Don Sikora II


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