Despite Reports: The Dodge Brand is Alive and Well

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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!

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