Chrysler 200 factory to remain idle into April

Chrysler 200 factory to remain idle into April

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has reportedly extended the inventory-correction shutdown at its Sterling Heights factory as Chrysler 200 sales remain sluggish.

The company idled the assembly lines on February 1 and expected to resume production by March 14. A Detroit News report suggests the hiatus will now stretch until April 4, providing three additional weeks for dealers to sell existing stock.

The second-generation Chrysler 200 arrived in showrooms by mid-2014. Demand surged early in 2015, resulting in a 52-percent jump over 2014’s full-year numbers. Growth quickly receded toward the end of the year, however, with a 47-percent drop in December.

The backward trend appears to have accelerated entering 2016, as deliveries collapsed by 61 percent for February and March combined.

Consumer Reports derided the redesigned 200 as the “worst car of 2015,” a title once held by the first-generation model. FCA chief Sergio Marchionne has even publicly acknowledged at least one complaint, calling the company’s designers ‘dummies’ for the cramped rear-seat entry.

The company does not appear too worried about any broader implications surrounding the 200’s struggles. Jeep sales continue to soar, thanks to a general boom in SUV and crossover popularity. Expecting fuel prices to remain low in the near- to mid-term, the automaker plans to focus its development resources on high-riding models rather than cars.

Marchionne previously promised the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart will “run their course,” though future generations could be built by another automaker and rebadged for FCA’s brand portfolio.

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