Chrysler Group communications media relations manager Kathy Graham said left-hand-drive versions of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based Dart would hit US showrooms by June, but said there was no plan for a right-hand-drive model for other parts of the world like Australia and the UK at this stage.
“Not at this point in time,” Graham said. “Right now it’s US-spec markets only. There’s about 60 countries it can be sold in.”
Graham said there was nothing technically stopping Chrysler from building the 4.7m Dart in right-hand drive, insisting it was more a matter of cost and demand.
“It should be possible to do it because it’s based off the Giulietta – the HVAC [heating, ventilation, air conditioning] is in the centre console and things like that – but right now from a business case standpoint it just makes sense to do it as a US-spec vehicle.”
While a right-hand drive Dart is not part of Chrysler’s 2013 model-year plans – which means it would not launch in Australia before 2014 – Graham said Chrysler had shown its potential to work fast with the new compact sedan.
“This whole car, from approval of the design to launch, is 18 months, so they do move very quickly.
“I think obviously if the demand is there they would take a look at it, but as of right now it’s not.”
The Dart is a crucial model for Dodge – a brand that faces extinction in a number of countries around the world, including Australia. Currently, Dodge Australia only imports the Journey people mover, and is selling the last remaining stock of the discontinued Caliber and Nitro compact SUVs.
If Dodge drops out of the Australian market as many have predicted, the Dart could be sold under a different name by another of Chrysler Australia’s brands, potentially as the Fiat Viaggio, which is set to be produced initially in China.
In the US, the Dart is available with three petrol engines: a 119kW/197Nm 2.0-litre Tigershark, a 137kW/232Nm 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir, and a 119kW/250Nm 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo.
Three six-speed transmissions are available: a manual, an automatic and a dual-clutch unit, with the most efficient powertrain package capable of returning fuel consumption of 5.9 litres per 100km.
The Dart is also well equipped in the US, with a seven-inch dashboard display and 8.4-inch centre console touchscreen (as seen in the new SRT Viper), and 10 airbags, blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection systems standard or available depending on the specification level.