Chrysler delivered 3,045 Dodge Dart sedans in August, marking the first time the model has sold more than 1,000 units since its launch in late June and a sign the auto maker is inching back into the compact-car segment.

However, the Dart still trails other closely watched competitors, including the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic. Only 772 Darts were sold in July and a mere 202 units were delivered in June, WardsAuto data shows.

The results are in line with expectations, Dodge officials say. The Dart is borrowing Fiat’s Alfa Romeo strategy, with its 1.4L Tigershark powertrain mated to a manual transmission before widely producing and delivering models with automatic transmissions.

About 70% of Darts delivered to date have automatic transmissions, Dodge says, reflecting recent trends that show U.S. drivers ditching stick shifts.

“We started with the 1.4L manual, kind of the ultimate Alfa Romeo feel, into the 2.0L with our PowerTech 6-speed automatic transmission, into our 1.4L with the DDCT (dual dry-clutch transmission),” Dodge Brand President Reid Bigland tells journalists at a recent media event in Chelsea, MI.

“All of those are produced; all of them are shipping; all of them are now on the ground.”

Chrysler also has added 1,100 fulltime workers for a third shift at its Belvidere, IL plant this year, but officials are mum about future projections for Dart sales.

The hiring spree is part of the auto maker’s plan to “make as much as the demand is,” Bigland says. “Way back in Detroit where we revealed (the Dart), we committed to the world that (it) would be in production in the second quarter of 2012.”

“It was in production in Q2 of 2012. We’ve employed very much a disciplined, methodical, unwavering focus on quality with respect to the ramp-up of the 2013 Dart into production in Q2.”

Other top sellers for Chrysler in August included the Ram fullsize pickup, up 14%, compared with year-ago, to 24,569 units, Chrysler 300, up 58.6% to 4,688 and Fiat 500, up 28.6% to 4,150.

“We’re ecstatic about how the sales are tracking,” Chrysler spokesman Ralph Kisiel says of the small Fiat, noting the 500 Cabrio was the highest-selling of the lower-small car’s available trims.

The Dodge Durango SUV continues to be a slow seller for Chrysler with 2,884 units delivered in August, down 46.8% from like-2011.

The auto maker sold a total 147,826 vehicles last month, up 9.8% from like-2011, and 1,10,884 units through the first eight months, WardsAuto data shows.

afoley@wardsauto.com