If you’ve been dreading an end to Australia’s affordable rear-wheel-drive muscle-car scene, take heart: Dodge is coming.
That’s the message from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia president and CEO, Pat Dougherty, who told CarAdvice this week that the Charger sedan and Challenger coupe are top priorities for a Dodge performance assault, with more to follow.
“[Challenger and Charger] for now are the first we would do, certainly. On a ‘going forward’ basis, I think there’s some other products that Dodge will be contemplating, that we’d like to be part of as well,” Dougherty said, speaking at this week’s launch of the 2016 Chrysler 300 range.
As for a timeline, that’s the trick. Dougherty says that, for now, it’s a question of availability and currency - issues that have tied the hands of many a motoring manager in Australia.
“Right now, it’s just a matter of… can we get on board with the next generation of Dodge, or can we do it before then? That’s the question right now,” he said.
That means a local debut before 2018 is unlikely, but there’s no doubt that the power-hungry Australian market is a priority for the newly performance-focused Dodge.
“When we came out in May 2013 with our next five-year plan, we said okay, Dodge is going to start moving away from the people-moving business and into performance; it’ll become performance-oriented. That positioning is very much being strengthened and we’re moving more in that direction with Dodge globally,” Dougherty said.
“In markets where it makes sense, we’ll absolutely do that, and Australia is one of those markets. We want the brand to be ‘the brand’ all over the world.”
And, as 2016 and 2017 bring an end to the Australian-built performance sedans in the Ford and Holden ranges, a local launch for Dodge’s Charger will make even more sense. Add the Mustang-rivalling Challenger coupe into the mix, and FCA has good reason to be excited.
“From a performance standpoint, it would definitely be exciting for Dodge. The current Charger in North America would fill a void here that would… look, Holden and Ford aren’t completely vacating the performance segment, they’re just not going to develop them here,” Dougherty said.
“From our standpoint, it probably puts us more on a level playing field, so that’s a lot more exciting for us.”
In the meantime, buyers in the hunt for a big affordable sedan that sends eight-cylinder grunt to the rear can keep Chrysler’s 300 SRT8 on the shopping list.
A refreshed 300 sedan range landed in Australia this week. An updated SRT8, with new features and a little more power, is now just weeks away.