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Dodge death denied

by David Zatz on

News Analysis

The “Dodge is Dead” story just won’t quit, because it’s fun and easy to speculate about brands dying, even if they are getting new products all the time.

Allpar addressed the “death of Dodge” story in June. In essence, it began with Ward’s noting the end of two Dodge cars; one was to be rebranded, the other, Avenger, to be dropped. Our conclusion was that Dodge was focusing on being “affordable muscle,” which means that Journey and Caravan are rather out of place; while Avenger as a 200 clone was being dropped, and replaced by a new rear wheel drive midsize car whose basis is being shared with Alfa Romeo. That car might end up being called Avenger after all, but it was originally to be called Barracuda.


When Fiat took over, leaders said that Dodge would stay sporty, but would move from muscle to cornering. Dodge Dart sales invalidated that idea; Dart is a great handling car, but changing a brand in that radical yet subtle a way takes a lot of time and money. Sergio Marchionne appears to have changed his plan from “change perceptions of Dodge” to the “change Dodge itself.”

How many cars does a brand need? Dodge has Dart, Avenger, Journey, Challenger, Durango, Charger, and Caravan. Chrysler only has 200, 300, and Town & Country. (We believe Durango will be dropped at the end of the current model run, replaced by Jeep Wagoneer; the Durango’s place will be taken by a similarly sized crossover based on the minivans. That’s two cars, Durango and Caravan, “dropped.” Whether the new crossover takes the Caravan name is a decision for Auburn Hills.)

We did not need Mr. Marchionne’s recent statement of denial to know that Dodge is not dying. Instead, the brand is finally gaining a focus it has not had — at least not since it was a separate company, Dodge Brothers.

See our full Dodge page.

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