Looks Like It's Business As Usual at Dodge

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
looks like its business as usual at dodge

It’s Fiat Chrysler Friday, apparently. Updates continue to trickle out of Italy, where FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne was hounded by press following the unveiling of his company’s five-year product plan.

A plan, it should be noted, that completely ignored Chrysler, Fiat, and Dodge. With talk of the four [s]important[/s] global brands out of the way, Marchionne opened up on the lesser divisions. So, what does the future hold for Dodge, the most ignored brand of the day? Not a hell of a lot, apparently.

According to Wards Auto, which compiled Marchionne’s comments from the press scrum, the Dodge brand sticks to the current plan. Like Chrysler, Dodge isn’t in danger of disappearing from the United States.

“Those two brands are not in question,” the CEO said, silently referencing Fiat’s hazy domestic future.

Dodge will continue on as the automaker’s performance brand, he added. Future models will source their underpinnings from modified, existing platforms. That’s hardly news, as it’s expected that the (pushed back) 2021 redesign of the Dodge Charger and Challenger will see the models’ ancient LX platform give way to that the Maserati Ghibli. Other future products include a redesigned Journey and Durango, scheduled to appear next year. Those models adopt the Giorgio platform found beneath the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio.

Yes, the Journey will become a rear-drive “performance” crossover. Start planning your tearful goodbyes to the base model’s four-speed automatic.

It’s worth noting that the only Dodge vehicles to see a meaningful year-over-year sales increase in May were the long-in-the-tooth Journey (up 37 percent), and the similarly ancient Caravan (up 12 percent). The Challenger increased its U.S. tally by 16 vehicles compared to May of last year. While May brought a year-over-year sales increase for the brand as a whole, its volume over the first five months of 2018 undercuts last year’s sales by 6 percent.

Other tidbits leaking out of Italy this afternoon include Marchionne mentioning Chrysler’s future as a “people mover” brand, and a green one at that. Not surprisingly, a next-generation 300 sedan seems to be off the table. According to analyst Stephanie Brinley of IHS Automotive, Marchionne said, “Trying to build a position in sedan is not helpful.”

Meanwhile, while the Fiat brand stands to slowly depart from our shores, FCA isn’t saying goodbye just yet. It seems that, like before, the brand will serve a strategic green purpose. Marchionne admitted hating the all-electric 500e when it debuted in America earlier this decade, adding that it was necessary to lower the automaker’s corporate average fuel economy and satisfy the EPA and CARB. It’s still the only true electric in the automaker’s U.S. lineup.

Well, there’s a new 500 emerging from Europe in 2020. Built on a new platform, the little city car will boast mild hybrid and electric variants, as well as a Giardiniera wagon version (which might have more than two side doors). It isn’t known for sure if the next-gen 500e will arrive on these shores, but Marchionne’s successor might need it.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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6 of 26 comments
  • Akear Akear on Jun 04, 2018

    In 15 years only Jeep will be around. Once the 200 was cancelled I knew the company was done. Sergio merged Chrysler and Fiat together and created one of the world's least reliable car companies. I'm the early 90s Chrysler was considered one of the world's most interesting car companies. Unfortunately, after the 'merger of equals' and the Fiat takeover FCA is a basket case. Even in the maliase era Chrysler's weren't this unreliable.

    • Sub-600 Sub-600 on Jun 04, 2018

      So if the 200 hadn’t been cancelled, the rest of the lineup would still be reliable?

  • Dallas_t4r Dallas_t4r on Jun 04, 2018

    Can't believe the Journey is a new vehicle. Had a rental recently and I told my wife it is the worst vehicle I have ever driven - Chevy Cruze is close though. On a 3k mile old V6 Journey Crossroad(2017) the fit and finish felt 8 years old. Infotainment system didn't work half the time, suspension rattled like a 25 year old benz, transmission was awfully confused for a new car, it rolled like a minivan on the slowest of turns, and the list goes on. We named it TrashCarTM. Seriously Dodge, burn all of these. Last thought, they are surprisingly expensive. For the money there are plenty better options that won't ding you on random repairs over the years like this FCA turd.

    • See 2 previous
    • Cactuar Cactuar on Jun 04, 2018

      @dallas_t4r Ouch, it doesn't bode well for long term ownership. I get what you mean now. Indeed in terms of construction our Odyssey is still very good inside. The knobs feel tight, the seats still look brand new and everything closes tightly. The hard plastic shows some scratches but then again the van does get abused :)

  • Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.
  • Stuart de Baker Chris! When asked for car advice, I just ask 'em what they want out of a car. And I have my prompts: fun to drive, safety, economy, longevity (I have Consumer Reports annual auto issues going back so I can help people with used cars, too), road trips vs in town, etc, and what sort of body style do they want and why. (If they want an SUV because they think it's safer, I'll suggest they consider large sedans, but if they put major emphasis on safety, I'll check the latest safety stats for whatever cars might satisfy their other desires.
  • Stuart de Baker I don't speak to Jeeps and I don't approve of driving off road, especially in places like Utah where the vegetation won't come back for years.
  • Kanu Actually, I think this makes a certain amount of sense.The average age of light vehicles in operation in the US is now 12.2 years. This means that the typical useful life of a light vehicle is around 25 years.The big virtue of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is that the infotainment system in your car uses the relatively up-to-date technology of your smartphone rather than the vintage technology that existed when your car was built.But the useful life of EVs is nowhere near 25 years. It’s more like 8 years. That’s when the battery needs to be replaced, and that’s when you discover that the price of the new battery is more than the market value of your eight-year-old car with a new battery.So if your EV has built-in infotainment technology, that technology will still be relatively up-to-date when your EV goes to the scrap yard.
  • Deanst I like most things Peugeot recently, along with Skoda wagons and, for practicality’s sake, a Toyota Corolla hybrid wagon. And the Honda e.