After years of decreasing sales, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has revealed that they will stop building the compact Dodge Dart this September. The move comes as the automaker will spend $350 million to retool the Dart's current Belvidere, Illinois plant to assemble the hot-selling Jeep Cherokee instead. The shift of Cherokee production means that the Jeep Patriot and Compass will also cease production, in December of this year.
The Dart was launched in mid-2012 to lacklustre reviews, and its best sales year in Canada was 2013 when 9,870 were sold. Despite increasing incentives, sales dropped to just 3,016 for 2015 and 2016 is looking more disappointing with just 829 moving off dealer lots as of the end of June. For comparison, the Honda sold nearly 65,000 Civics last year to lead the compact market. Fiat announced this past January that they wanted to find another automaker to design and build the successor to both the Dart and the midsize Chrysler 200, but no announcement has yet been made about those replacement cars.
Jeep's continued record sales mean that the Cherokee will be taking over the Belvidere plant and that will free up space in Jeep's Toledo, Ohio plant to build more Wranglers. Earlier this year, Toledo officials had expressed concern that the plant was going to be closed but the production shift is also coming with $700 million in expansion and improvements to build the next generation Wrangler at the historic Toledo facility.