Dodge’s ranks have been thinning ever since RAM took over the pickup truck business, and next year, Chrysler’s volume brand will cease production of the Avenger, leaving behind a gaping hole in its lineup. This raises the question: Is Dodge headed for the crusher?
With these products gone or going, the alarming question has been raised by Ward’s Auto in a recent report outlining the product shortages at Dodge. And the death of new models is going to get worse, Ward’s reports, citing inside sources that at least two more products are already being prepared for migration to Chrysler or discontinuation. Those vehicles are likely the Dodge Grand Caravan, which will probably be sent to Chrysler and sold exclusively as the Town and Country, and the Avenger, which we already know is set to be discontinued.
That leaves Dodge with the Durango, Challenger, Charger, Dart and Journey. The latter two now ride on Fiat derived platforms. The Dart is currently built at the brand’s Belvidere, IL, plant and will be joined by the Chrysler 100 in 2016, while the Dodge Journey/Fiat Freemont replacement is set to be built in Sterling Heights, MI. Thanks to platform sharing, both the Dart and Journey will have a Chrysler or Fiat equivalent vehicle that can step in as their replacement. As for the Challenger, rumors have been circulating about the the Barracuda nameplate being revived and stepping in as a Challenger replacement, possibly as a second stand-alone product under the new SRT brand – the first product being the new Viper.
The Charger doesn’t have a direct copy that could spin off into another Chrysler brand, but the 300 could theoretically pick up the slack, while the Durango is already built alongside the more popular Jeep Grand Cherokee on the same underpinnings.
So it does seam feasible that Dodge could be discontinued and its products spread out between other Chrysler nameplates, but whether or not Fiat wants to keep Dodge around for the long term is another question unto itself. The year 2016 will mark the climax of several product upgrades and manufacturing changes for Chrysler, all of which started in 2009 when Fiat took an equity stake in the company. If Fiat is looking to dump the Dodge brand, it will be decided by 2016 once all of these manufacturing changes take place.
[Source: Ward's Auto]