The global future of Dodge is looking shaky with the American brand being pulled out of certain markets amid slow demand.
Despite a rich history that reaches back to 1900, the Chrysler Group’s Dodge brand is finding it difficult to compete on the international field.
The president and CEO of Chrysler’s third brand, Jeep, says the repositioning of Dodge is part of a new strategy with majority shareholder Fiat but wouldn’t confirm if Dodge would be withdrawn from the Australian market.
The move will either see Dodge models discontinued or rebranded under another badge such as Fiat in many countries.
“We are phasing out Dodge vehicles in international markets [and] progressively working with Fiat to keep vehicles there but under a different brand,” says Mike Manley (pictured below). “For example with [the Dodge] Journey, we’ve moved to Fiat Journey (pictured below). In some markets we will keep [the] Dodge brand alive but we look at those individually.
“I am not confirming that Dodge is going to leave Australia, but Dodge will not be a lead international brand. It will still be in some countries, but many markets Dodge is leaving, like Europe for example.”
Mr Manley (pictured below) said that only two brands within the Fiat Chrysler alliance were true global players, with all products being built in both left- and right-hand drive: Alfa Romeo and Jeep.
Chrysler will continue to select a number of models for both LHD and RHD markets, but Dodge is very unlikely to progress into right-hand-drive in the future.
Dodge unveiled its new Dart small car (below) at this week’s 2012 Detroit motor show but the model that will replace the Caliber is not confirmed for right-hand drive. The Dodge Avenger – already deleted from Australia – may also be discontinued so the company can focus on the 200C as its primary medium-size car.
The Caliber currently forms part of Dodge’s small line-up in Australia, where the brand’s future in the market has previously been the subject of speculation.
The Caliber was Dodge’s best-selling model locally in 2011, contributing to 41 per cent year on year growth that took the brand to 2703 sales for the year and past Chrysler itself with its lamentable 580 sales.
Jeep remains the Chrysler Group’s star performer in Australia, with 8648 sales in 2011.
Manly says Dodge vehicles could potentially continue in Australia under another of the alliance’s brands even if Dodge is discontinued.
“Each and every Dodge vehicle that we produce, we look at it and say were do we want to take this vehicle and what’s the international demand,” says Manly. “If the demand is not there Dodge will go from Australia, but not necessarily Dodge vehicles, that has to be clear.”
“Dodge as a vehicle, even if its removed as a brand, may not necessarily leave the marketplace if there is a home for it under another brand”