Poor sales force nine-week shutdown of Chrysler 200 plant
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is currently in discussions with potential partners to build the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart even as poor American sales are forcing a lengthy shutdown at one of the plants that makes them.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne announced inJanuarythat the automaker will stop making its own small cars to concentrate on larger cars, crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks which are the profitable side of the business. The Chrysler 200 midsize sedan and Dodge Dart compact car are poor sellers with low profit margins, while strong sales of Jeeps and Ram pickups are carrying the company.
In Geneva, asked about the partnership search, Marchionne said, “There are discussions going on now. I think we will find a solution.We continue to talk. It’s both a technical solution and an economic one. We need to find a solution that works economically.”
FCA wants to contract out the building of its small cars to someone “who is better at it than we are and who has got capacity available,” Marchionne said.”We’re not going to make the car. We’re not the guys who are going to do the manufacturing of the car.”
February U.S. sales underscore the point with less than 6,600 sales of the Chrysler 200, down 58 percent from a year ago. So far this year, Chrysler 200 sales are down 61 percent.
Today, FCA confirmed it is extending the temporary shutdown of the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan that makes the 200. The plant went down February 1 and workers were supposed to return March 14, but that has been extended to April 4, making it a nine-week layoff to bring production in line with lack of demand.
The Dodge Dart has seen its sales fall 9 percent in February and 26 percent so far this year but no new actions are being taken at the Belvidere, Ill., plant where the compact car is made.