Chrysler brings back the Dodge Dart

@PeterDrives January 9, 2012: 6:14 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Chrysler Group unveiled its much-needed new small car, the Dodge Dart small car at the Detroit auto show Monday. The car is expected to go on sale later this year at prices starting at about $16,000. Official fuel economy estimates aren't available, yet.

The Dart is based on engineering shared with Italy's Fiat, Chrysler's parent company.

It will be built in Chrysler's Belvidere, Ill., factory. It will go on sale with a base price of $15,995.

Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne conceded at a press conference later Monday that the company won't make a lot of money at that price for the stripped down model. But he's betting that buyers drawn in by the low price will add options. "You start shopping there and by the time you finish, maybe you'll pay more," he said.

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The Dart is adapted from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta sold in Europe, but it's wider and longer to better suit American tastes.

It will be available with three engine choices: 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engines and a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine.

The only small car Dodge sells now is the Caliber, a model that Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has said is not competitive.

"To call the Caliber a retail vehicle would be an abomination," Marchionne said during a meeting with reporters at last year's Detroit Auto Show.

Chrysler Group, which makes Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles, has been partnered with Fiat since emerging from bankruptcy in the summer of 2009.

In June, the U.S. Treasury Department sold its last remaining stake in Chrysler to Fiat. Providing Chrysler with a small, fuel-efficient car based on Fiat engineering was one of Treasury's requirements before the Italian automaker could take its majority stake in the company.

CNNMoney's Chris Isidore contributed to this report. To top of page

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