Chrysler will drop its all-wheel-drive option for the 2009 Dodge Avenger, Caliber and Chrysler Sebring because of low demand. The information was confirmed by company spokesman Jiyan Cadiz, who said the option never really caught on since its introduction for those particular models late last year.

“For the Avenger, the take rate was 1.5% for 2008, and for the Sebring it was at 0.7%.” Cadiz revealed during a recent interview with Wards. “So obviously the bottom line is people want fuel economy, and the AWD modules are not profitable for us. That’s something we can get rid of as we’re consolidating products and finding what’s profitable.”

Both price and fuel-economy play a major role in affecting customer buying decisions in these segments. The FWD V6 Sebring, for example, is $2,000 cheaper than the AWD model and gets a city/highway EPA fuel-economy rating of 16/26mpg (15-9L/100km) versus 15/24mpg (16-10L/100km) for the AWD model.

Chrysler president and vice chairman Jim Press has also in the past questioned why an AWD option was offered on these three vehicles in the first place. However, a spokesman from BorgWarner, the company that supplies Chrysler with its AWD system, said the move was odd given market research that showed AWD is gaining popularity in the B, C and D segments globally.

Chrysler is currently developing an active AWD system that normally runs in 2WD mode and only switches to all-wheel mode when there’s loss of traction. The system is expected to debut in the next-generation Chrysler 300 sedan and fuel-economy is expected to be almost the same as the 2WD-only model. The company also plans to keep its AWD option on its other models.