dodge-fleet.jpgBy William Foster

    Recently, an article was emailed to me from the website The Truth About Cars, stating that with the Chrysler Group branding the 2013 Viper as an SRT product and not a Dodge product, the Dodge brand is slowly being phased out.  The real truth is that the Dodge brand is alive and well, with some of the Group’s most important brands currently wearing the Dodge badge.  Also, with models like the upcoming 2013 Dodge Dart and the popular Durango, the Chrysler Group is showing that they are working to improve the future of the young, sporty Dodge brand.

    The Chrysler Group has certainly made moves in the past few years
    that have impacted the Dodge marquee negatively, with the biggest move
    being the removal of the Dodge pickups (Ram, Dakota) to form the Ram
    brand.  Above all, this move allowed the Chrysler Group to have two
    distinct groups focusing on items like engineering, design, sales and
    marketing to improve both brands.  

    The Dodge brand quickly
    shifted towards the sportier end of things in everything from the new
    “hashmark” logo to redesigned models like the 2011 Charger, Avenger and
    the Durango.  On the other hand, the Ram Truck brand continued on with
    its marketing direction of being a rugged, do anything brand with
    advertising aimed more at those who are looking to buy a pickup. 
    Ultimately, with the Ram Truck brand sold alongside the Dodge brand in
    dealerships around the country, there was little real impact on the
    Dodge brand by having the marquee removed from the popular Ram pickup.

    the suggestion that the Dodge Caravan lineup will be killed off in
    favor of the Chrysler Town & Country might soon be a fact, but this
    also doesn’t show any moves by Chrysler to kill off the Dodge brand. 
    Dodge is aiming to be a youthful, sporty brand, and let’s be honest,
    minivans aren’t youthful and sporty. 

    Even with models like the recent
    283 horsepower Dodge Grand Caravan R/T — aka the Man Van — minivans
    just don’t fall in line with being youthful and sporty.  Also, the
    Chrysler Town & Country is more upscale, and with that comes a
    higher price tag.  Sales between the two popular minivans have been
    fairly similar this year, but should Chrysler kill off the Caravan, we
    can expect that many of those prospective Chrysler Group minivan buyers
    will simply go for the Town & Country.  This also supports the move
    by all of the Big 3 automakers to remove redundancy among their brands,
    but it doesn’t suggest that Dodge is nearing death.  There are also
    rumors that a new “people mover” could be introduced to the Dodge brand,
    being smaller than the Town & Country and catering more towards the
    younger crowd.

    Finally, the removal of the Viper from the Dodge
    lineup doesn’t suggest the end of the Dodge, but instead an emphasis
    that the Street and Racing Technology (SRT) brand is truly a brand of
    its own.  Right now, the SRT group offers their own high performance
    version of the Chrysler 300C, the Dodge Charger, the Dodge Challenger
    and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, all of which wear the SRT logo and the name
    of their individual brand.  If the SRT brand is to be taken seriously,
    it needs to have its own unique model, and the Viper is the best choice
    to head up a high performance brand.  The Viper has previously been sold
    in non-American markets as a Chrysler Viper, but with the verbiage of
    the 2013 SRT Viper, the Chrysler Group has a king of their high end SRT

    All in all, even with the removal of some key models, it
    should be kept in mind that Dodge still offers some of the company’s
    topselling models, like the Charger and Challenger – which would never
    “work” under another brand name.  The Dodge brand isn’t being killed
    off, but instead, it is being reformed to be more attractive as a brand
    to the American consumer with an enticing, sporty model in each of the
    most popular automotive segments.

    What do you think? Has the re-branding of important vehicles hurt the Dodge brand? Shout off in the forums!