By Nat Shirley
Wednesday, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 4:27 pm
 

After getting off to a slow sales start this summer, the Dodge Dart seemed to be heating up after 5,455 examples of the compact sedan found homes in October.

But Dart volume dropped by nearly 1,000 units to 4,489 last month, even as overall industry sales grew 15 percent. Making matters worse, Chrysler added a third shift at the Dart's Belvidere, IL, in anticipation of increased demand, meaning that Dodge now has a 112-day supply of the compact. A 60-day supply is generally viewed as ideal.

The news represents a troubling development for a car that many analysts view as a key element for the long-term success of Chrysler's turnaround plan.

Despite the overstock, one of issues hurting Dart sales is a lack of properly equipped models on dealer lots. With over 100,000 possible Dart build combinations, Dodge and its dealers are still determining what groupings of options and packages appeal to buyers.

"We're still very much in the ramp-up mode for the Dart. We're still trying to get the right mix out there," Dodge Brand President Reid Bigland told The Detroit News.

However, there's a silver lining to the otherwise bleak situation - Bigland says Dart's average transaction price is $22,012, roughly $2,600 more than the industry average for compact cars. Bigland added that many other automakers are offering oversized incentives on their small cars to boost volume, a profit-robbing move that Chrysler is looking to avoid.