With the Chrysler group positioning Jeep and Chrysler brand as its two international brands, Dodge is refocusing its efforts on the North American market where it has traditionally enjoyed its strongest sales.
Following the brand's removal from Europe and China last year, the demise of Dodge in Australia is all but certain. Speaking to the Australian automotive media in Beijing, Fiat-Chrysler Asia Pacific (APAC) chief operating officer Mike Manley denied any firm decision on the brand’s Australian future had already been made but conceded Dodge is likely to be removed.
“We genuinely haven’t taken a decision to formally kill Dodge in Australia, but if we follow the same pattern as we have in other international markets, then it’s certainly a matter of time,” Manley said.
He went on to say that it’s very likely Dodge’s days are numbered in Australia once the distribution channels and other areas have been sorted.
In the first quarter of 2012 Dodge sold 445 vehicles in Australia. Surprisingly for the group, it was second only to Jeep (4105 sales) and significantly more than Chrysler (17 sales). Fiat and Alfa Romeo, which are changing distributors to the Fiat-Chrysler group in May, were also outsold by Dodge in the first quarter.
The decision to kill the Dodge brand internationally has already seen a rebranding process take place under the Fiat umbrella, the first of which being the Fiat Freemont, a rebadged version of the Dodge Journey. The process showed unexpected success in Europe where the Freemont has seen consistently strong sales, thanks in part to leverage gained from the smaller Fiat Panda's market dominance. As for a Fiat Freemont for the Australian market, Fiat’s brand boss, Olivier Francois, told us that it’s possible if there is demand but that the brand’s focus in Australia is mainly on the 500 line-up.
As previously reported, Dodge is expected to remain in Australia for the remainder of the year.