QOTD: What's Missing From This Badge?
The badge you don’t see in the photo is the no-longer-Ram-associated Dodge badge, the one we’ll be discussing today. In a post the other day, yours truly waxed on and on, probably to your great annoyance, about the brand’s attempt to stimulate interest in its future via its past. What name would you like to see return, the brand’s Twitter account asked.
Some readers considered the tweet a possible sign of a returning Viper — the low-volume supercar that bowed out Dodge’s lineup not all that long ago. A month before his death, former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne poured cold water over the idea, claiming the Viper could only stage a profitable return if it shared a platform with something from FCA’s European collection, and in doing so wouldn’t be able to handle a giant, honking, torque-laden American engine necessary for a Viper to be a real Viper.
Maybe it’s still a good idea to some, though others might feel a Ford GT-like one-off model punted to a Canadian specialty manufacturer and offered at a stratospheric sticker price is a better way to go.
While we can talk Viper, the aim of this post is to generate discussion about what missing vehicle Dodge needs in its lineup, taking into consideration the West’s cooling auto sales and the industry’s concerns for long-term financial stability.
You might argue that, in light of Marchionne’s insistence that a ground-up Viper build would lose the company money, a non-Viper sports car borrowing its bones from Alfa Romeo or Maserati might be just the thing to stimulate interest in the brand. And it could just as easily be a slow-selling lemon that makes Dodge a laughingstock. Cue jokes about “TC, by Maserati.”
With Boomers distracted by Corvettes and getting on in years, counting on a new sports car that doesn’t go way out and wild could be a recipe for breaking even. At best. So why bother?
It can also be argued that Dodge’s venerable Charger and Challenger already offer all the brash power and image a red-blooded American can handle, and do so reliably and profitably. Despite their aged platform and throwback bodies, the Charger/Challenger, long since paid off, still have what it takes to keep customers rolling in.
So, what’s left? Sedans are out, and the market tells us that so too are coupes and roadsters. Keeping one eye on the coffers and the other on today’s auto landscape, it would seem the most useful vehicle in a future Dodge lineup would be of the utility variety. Well, that’s hardly sexy. What can Dodge offer in this space that a buyer can’t find elsewhere?
Alright, B&B, it’s time to play Mike Manley for a while. What does this brand need to safeguard its existence?
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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