Production of the Dodge Dart will begin in May with full production of the compact car expected by mid-summer, Reid Bigland, head of sales for Chrysler, said today.
Bigland said the company expects to build about 2,000 Dodge Darts in May and about 8,000 in June.
"It's going to be late summer before we really hit the stride with all of the option availability," Bigland said today at an event in Detroit.
Built in Belvidere, Ill., the Dart is expected to be the company's first credible compact car since the early 1990s when it introduced the Dodge Neon. The Dart, which is built on a platform adapted from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, also is the first real test of the theory that Fiat's small car expertise can strengthen Chrysler where it has been weak.
By late summer, Bigland said he expects the company will be building 10,000 to 12,000 Darts per month.
Chrysler plans to export the Dart to about 40 different countries, including Canada and Mexico.
With a starting price of $15,995, the Dart will give Chrysler a compact car at a time when gas prices are rising and consumers are buying more small cars.
Bigland said the launch of the Dart is on schedule, even though it will take until June before most dealers receive a full allotment of cars.
"It's not a concern," Bigland said. "Given the size of the segment throughout North America and the enthusiasm for the Dart, we think it's going to go OK."
Bigland spoke today at Hard Rock Cafe in Detroit where Dodge and SRT Motorsports announced the Dart is entering rally car racing with extreme sports racing star Travis Pastrana as the driver.
The 2013 Dodge Dart will participate in the 2012 Global RallyCross Championship Series with Pastrana.
The Global RallyCross Championship combines circuit racing, off-road racing and rally competition into one race. The sport debuted in the US at X Games 16 in Los Angeles in 2010.
Pastrana, 28, is four-time Rally America Champion and 17-time X Games Gold Medalist. He also is a stunt performer and a proven winner in freestyle motocross and rally car racing and has competed in NASCAR.
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