It’s a well-known fact that most Americans prefer to drive cars with automatic gearboxes over ones with manual transmissions, while others are unsure of how to drive stick at all.
So it’s no surprise that Chrysler -- whose manual transmission 2013 Dodge Dart launched earlier this year -- is working hard to bring automatic and dual-clutch versions to market as soon as possible.
Chrysler took the unusual step of launching its new compact car back in June with a manual-only red Rallye special edition, with the automatic version it showed to the press during the introductory drive event following a few months later.
According to Automotive News (subscription required), the lack of automatic Dodge Darts has left many would-be customers who are unfamiliar with manual transmissions waiting for a test-drive.
2013 Dodge Dart test drive, Austin, Texas, April 2012
2013 Dodge Dart test drive, Austin, Texas, April 2012Enlarge Photo
Luckily for dealers and customers alike, production of 2013 Darts -- complete with Hyundai-sourced six-speed automatic transmission --has recently started, with cars expected at dealers in the next few weeks.
The 2013 Dodge Dart is Chrysler’s first compact car for many years, and aims to compete directly with cars like the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic.
Designed to offer 100,000 different build variants, the 2013 Dart will eventually be available with a choice of three different engines, three different gearboxes, and five different trim levels.
The idea, Chrysler says, is to offer a compact car that fits everyone’s needs -- from those wanting a small, high gas-mileage car to those who want a sporty performance sedan on a tight budget.
Offering all these choices, not to mention building them without relying on the traditional option list, engine and trim groupings you’d find most automakers using, is a big task for any automaker.
And that’s why Chrysler, rather smartly, is rolling out engine options and transmission options one-by-one.