AD #1787 – Ford Posts Strong 2015 Earnings, Dart & 200 Getting the Axe, Small Car Segment Changing Before Our Eyes

January 28th, 2016 at 11:49am

Runtime: 7:05

*There maybe some difficulty playing today’s show. We’re working to correct the problem, but if you’d still like to watch the video version, please click here.

- Ford Posts Strong 2015 Earnings
- Dodge Dart & Chrysler 200 Get the Axe
- Opel Shows Sleek New Concept
- Jaguar Soups Up the F-TYPE
- Small Car Segment Changing Before Our Eyes

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50 Comments to “AD #1787 – Ford Posts Strong 2015 Earnings, Dart & 200 Getting the Axe, Small Car Segment Changing Before Our Eyes”

  1. WineGeek Says:

    The online version of today’s show is not working. It partially downloads then stops and a big exclamation point shows on the screen and the shows tops running.

  2. Tony Gray Says:

    And the end of the transcript tells me to have a great weekend. I will…after I work tomorrow!

  3. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I too am experiencing slow load and multiple stops in the video; I think I’ll just read the transcripts today.

  4. Chuck Grenci Says:

    It looks like FCA brought their “B” game when it brought the 200 and Dart (to market). In this highly competitive segment that was a major mistake. And dropping these vehicles (instead of improving them) is another mistake as economy and smaller cars are going to be needed in these segments (eventually).

  5. RumNCoke Says:

    Let’s hope Chevy fares better with its new Malibu than FCA did with the 200. It seems short-sighted of Mr. Marchionne to kill the compact and mid-size car offerings. How does this affect CAFE and carbon footprint numbers?

  6. Sean McElroy Says:

    @Everyone – Looks like we’re having the same issue we had several weeks back. We’re working to correct the problem, but if you’d still like to watch the video version of today’s show, here’s a link to our YouTube video: https://youtu.be/rmymWymhbpU. It plays just fine.

  7. JWH Says:

    1 & 3 – Had similar issue about a month ago – Went for the YouTube version that day w/o issue.

  8. Lex Says:

    The Dart and 200 were never competitive enough to go up against the Corolla, Civic or it’s cross town arrivals. FCA should take the best features of both vehicles and merge them into one outstanding B segment vehicle IMHO.

  9. JB Says:

    The compact and mid size segments are so competitive Chrysler is smart to leave the segment. Why spend resources on products that don’t make money.

    Just run a joint venture with a Chinese company and bring in their compact and midsize sedan.

    Concentrate on the products that make money and for gods sake bring I the alfa brand already…

    That guilia looks hot. Just charge less than the comparable BMW and set the less rates lower as well.

    Just ten percent less than the established German lease rates at http://www.legendleasing.com and a
    Fa dealers will be good to go.

    Just set up a 3 year lease and a preowned certified program where you can make a portion of your profit on the back end of the certified preowned vehicle through the dealer network…

    Fiat does not have to give the alfas away like the Chrysler 200….just make the alfas performance stronger and the payment 10 percent less..

    German car buyers are bored with their cars.

    The reliability of the Maserati brand as well as more expensive leases than the Germans stalled growth.

    Spend the money to push dealerships to hire people specifically on site to aleviate any issues their cars may have…

    To launch the brand in the usa….reliability and durability must be in the same league as what Americans demand…

    No ifs and or butts.

    Great show and I can’t wait for autoline after hours …

    Always a fun show.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Given the long lead time for new models, I really hope Sergio and company are already designing new, hopefully competitive replacements for Dart and 200. Yes, gas is now cheap, and everyone {except me} is buying pickup trucks and SUV’s, but the cheap gas won’t last forever. When gas goes back up to $4/gallon, FCA will need smaller cars to sell.

  11. Lex Says:

    Hyundai has destroyed the sporty look on the Elantra with that horrible front nose and large grille. It now looks like any other Audi want-to-be on the road. The front fascia is what gave the Elantra a sporty look which made it stand out of the crowd. I am all for making the interior roomier, so those improvements are welcome but Hyundai might have killed the Golden Goose by plastering their corporate grille on this small vehicle.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve read that FCA is likely to rebadge some front drive cars from their long time partner, Mitsubishi. It they do this, the Mitsu products need to improve. Their current products are, for the most part, worst-in-class, or nearly so.

  13. C-Tech Says:

    If you kill the 200, is the knife not far behind for the Chrysler brand?

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It sounds like the next gen minivan (Pacifica) will be a Chrysler, and there is the 300. It seems that the 300 is the only product where the Chrysler name really “fits,” though.

  15. C-Tech Says:

    Killing the 200 and Dart. This is a perfect example of the short term western mind set vs. the long term mind set of improvement in the eastern mind set.

  16. C-Tech Says:

    I guess Dodge will offer electric and 4cyl small trucks to meet CAFE.

  17. Tony Gray Says:

    #2: Maybe I was hallucinating!

  18. Dave Says:

    How can FCA dump their small car lineup and still expect to hit CAFE requirements?

  19. Rob Says:

    FCA just needs to step up their game. Ford and GM replaced the Cavalier and Escort with much better offerings like the Focus and Cruze. The Dart just hasnt improved that much. Its a re-skinned Neon.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A possible bright move, as far as FCA partnering for 200/Dart replacements, would be Mazda. Mazda is building a FIAT version of the Miata, so there is precedent.

    I know of a plant in Illinois that is probably available for sale, if Mazda needs more capacity.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    19 Dart isn’t a re-skinned Neon, it’s a re-bodied Alfa Giulietta. Still, it isn’t competitive with Civic, Corolla, etc.

  22. Lisk Says:

    If I was a car manufacturer, I’d have a tough time green lighting any passenger cars these days. It looks like more and more folks are willing to spend a few more dollars for CUVs. CUVs have pretty much killed the minivan market, and they doing the same to sedans. There will always be a market, and I see the market is expected to grow for compacts, but as long as gas stays cheap, a non-profitable vehicle line has to be eliminated. It is too bad Sergio has given up on his product after such a short run.

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    Were these cars really that bad that FCA engineers could not fix their weaknesses and instead they just pull the plug? The Civic was lambasted by the auto media and Honda addressed those issues and now it has become the class leader it used to be. Now either the Giuletta platform is too outdated and weak or the FCA engineers are incompetent. Giving up on such an important segment is another stupid mistake by Sergio and his minions.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    CUV’s are the “hot” product these days, but mid-size cars are second in volume, only to all sizes of “cross-over” vehicles combined.

    http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3022-autosales.html

  25. HtG Says:

    FCA

    One thing Sergio is saying is that FCA doesn’t expect the price of gas to rise very much. The world cannot un-invent fracking and the supply and reserves this has meant. Iran is also back. SUVs and trucks are where the margins are, not the Dart.

    Did I read the Dart/200 story wrong? I thought Sergio M wasn’t saying these cars would get killed, but that the manufacturing would be done by another company. FCA would still do the design and engineering. Is that right? (didn’t BMW have Magna build the original X3 for them?)

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    23 I’ve never driven a current Dart, but have sat in them, and the interior seems ok. With the 2.4 automatic, or the 1.4 turbo manual, the car isn’t terrible, but most of the competition is better, and more reliable.

  27. HtG Says:

    I wish I knew the reason consumers put such a high value on SUVs and trucks. The young guy at the liquor store wears $60 LaCoste tshirts; I don’t understand this either.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I guess people buy LaCoste t-shirts for the same reason people buy Lexus ES’s rather than loaded Camrys. I don’t much understand either, or the SUV’s.

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Seems to me that FCA or Chrysler back then was always almost as good as the competition, Neon, Sebring, Avenger,whatever it was, it always trailed the competition in just about every aspect. Only the RWD full size cars are competitive, mainly because they got the market to themselves, if you want a large, RWD sedan, you gotta buy a luxury car.

  30. Rob Says:

    Two philosophies when it comes to the entry level cars;

    1) You build a very nice car on par with quality and features as any other segment but smaller. It won’t be the cheapest but your customer (if they felt it was a quality car) will be a return customer when they are ready to buy an up-level car.

    Or #2) You build the entry level car cheap to get customers in your product, hoping they understand it’s a cheap first car and will stay brand loyal. Get an appealing design with nice wheels and stereo and cut costs everywhere else.

    My take is FCA has always taken the #2 approach.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    29 I was always a Chrysler fan as a kid, and have had a number of Chrysler products over the years. I still like some of their products, like the rear drive cars, but these are products for yesterday, not for the future. I wonder if Sergio realizes that.

    Yeah, Chrysler has the market to themselves, for “affordable” big rear drive cars.

  32. aliisdad Says:

    #18, That is exactly my concern about FCA’s plan to drop these “passenger cars”.. How will they meet the upcoming, stricter CAFE requirements?!?
    My thought would be to sell more FIAT small/medium car models in the US…
    It seems kind of hard to understand what FCA, and other companies are doing, sometimes; however, I have to assume the leaders of companies like FCA have a plan unknown to us…. I sure hope so, anyway!!

  33. Brett Says:

    So, Mitsubishi is experiencing double-digit sales growth year over year because their products are marginal. Got it.

  34. Albemarle Says:

    I just watched After Hours. I really enjoyed Dave Zuchowski. One of those knowledgable car industry types that can handle a wide ranging discussion without weasel words. Got lots of useful industry info and future company plans from him.
    I thought it was interesting for Dave to indicate that even the Sonata is being affected by the drop in the mid-size market, and his feeling that the market is moving to smaller crossovers. Don’t know if Sergio is correct about dumping the segment. It’s drastic but they may be cash limited to do a redesign in a segment they never got traction in.

  35. ChidderChadder Says:

    That’s 3 days in a row about that friggin #Hyuandai #Elantra

    So sick of sponsored product spots

  36. XA351GT Says:

    So what Is FCA going to do kill off Chrysler and Dodge and just Ram/FIAT/Jeep ? Right now there are only 5 cars in the entire Chrysler/Dodge Line up . 300/200/Dart/Charger/Challenger. the 300/Charger/Challenger are all on aging Daimler based architecture . Remove those and all that is left is Crossovers /Vans and trucks. I see the end of 2 great brands in the near future unfortunately .

  37. G.A.Branigan Says:

    It will be a shame,but unless fca pulls a rabbit out of their hat,they are gonna be toast.Unless Ram and Jeep are enough brands to deal with and expand their lineup.Get out of the car business and bring in a line of QUALITY small pickup trucks/cuv’s.

  38. G.A.Branigan Says:

    To go along with the jeep/ram brands.Take the Ram Promaster City Wagon,leave it the size it is,offer up a 3.0L v6,or small diesel,and luxury it up a bit,and get rid of the town and country/pacifica.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems to me that any car company needs to take mid-size cars seriously. Even though crossovers are the hot item, about 3.5M mid cars were sold in the US in 2015, and only 4.5M for ALL crossovers. Cars aren’t dead, and when gas prices start going up, people will suddenly gain interest in cars.

    Yes, FCA will certainly become a “truck company” at their peril, looking into the future.

  40. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, do you believe that FCA does not take midsize and compact cars seriously, or they just cannot bring a good enough product to market? Perhaps it’s the fact that they don’t have a good platform to work with or their engineers just cannot do the job.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    To me, they’ve had multiple problems. Yeah, maybe they just don’t know how to do it right. They have sub-par powertrains in both Dart and 200, except maybe the V6/auto in the 200. I’ve read that the 1.4 turbo/manual in the Dart isn’t bad, for the handful of Americans who want a manual.

    The platforms, themselves, are probably ok, given the demands of customers for mainstream cars, but the total package doesn’t make it. There is a lot of really good competition in those segments.

  42. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Just watched “Autoline After Hours”; all about the Elantra (and other Hyundai stuff). It was a little to much Hyundai for me as it was the whole show, but overall, not bad. The most exciting news (to me) was that next week’s AAH show will feature Bob Lutz; now that’s the one I’ll be waiting for.

  43. Rob Says:

    39 I dont think you can blame the engineers at FCA for the cars being made anymore than you can blame the engineers at VW for the emissions scandel.
    Its corporate direction and management. Ford and GM realized people wanted small cars but not some econo box with roll up windows. They finally started building small cars with quality interiors that were quiet and had lots of options.
    Dodge and Chrysler have just been behind in getting there. Same with their muscle car the Challenger. They developed a king of the hill powerplant but its a straitline car. The Camaro and Mustang will dominate a Challenger probably everywhere including the drag strip because of its weight.
    I mean look at how many turbo/supercharged powerplants the competition has and look at what FCA offers. They are always playing catch-up. I’ve never considered them a leader in technology, powertrain, or even styling. Thats managements fault not the engineers. Certainly FCA does not have the resources to spend on R&D as Ford or GM but until that changes they will always (as Iacocca once said “lead follow or get out of the way”) they are following

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    While Challenger is considered a “pony car,” it appeals to a different group of people than Camaro and Mustang. It is big and heavy, but it is also roomy, compared to the others. I know two Challenger owners who would not have considered Mustang or Camaro, because they actually use the back seat, and the large trunk. Yeah, the Challenger does not compete, as a sports car.

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I guess the late 50′s was about the last time Chrysler was the leader in powertrain technology, with hemi engines and Torqueflight transmissions.

  46. Focusdude Says:

    Marcioni shows how little he knows about US market. Truck sales always go up when gas prices drop and vice versa. FCA needs to keep the Dart and 200 for the future CAFE.

  47. Rob Says:

    Kit I’m driving a Challenger everyday to work and its just not a refined vehicle. Yes it is much bigger and roomier than the Mustang or Camaro but even with it being an RT with Hemi it doesnt have the power that Ford or GM have. Its noisy and has an unimpressive interior.

  48. Marshall Says:

    Remember when they used to call Chrysler and Fiat coming together a ‘merger’. Ya right. Flash forward a few years and all announcements and corporate decisions are made by Sergio Marchionne.

    As a former customer ['85 Ply Laser, '85 Ply Turismo 2.2 , '92 Ply Neon ] I truly miss the old Chrysler.

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    47 One of my friends’ Challenger is a 2015, and one is a 2011 or so. The interior got nicer in 2015, and is a lot nicer than the outgoung Camaro, but is nothing special. Yep, the Challenger 5.7 has less power than the V8 Mustang and Camaro, and the car is heavier. It takes the 485 hp 6.4 to make the Challenger as quick in a straight line as the Mustang GT and Camaro SS, and the Dodge will never handle as well. You say a Challenger is noisy, but it’s quiet compared to a 1996 Corvette :-)

  50. Rob Says:

    I would hope its quiet compared to a car 20 years old.