Rumors have circulated over the past few months among the automotive press that Dodge, a venerable American automotive brand, could be getting the axe from Chrysler-Fiat boss Serigo Marchionne. The reason for this is simple, Dodge doesn't make sense for the overall goals of the company.
Before we get boatloads of hate mail for even running this article and editorial, Dodge fans need to think about the fact that the “Dodge” moniker was dropped from the truck division which is now known as “Ram Trucks.” Also the Dodge Viper is not called that by the company but is either referred to as “Viper” or “SRT Viper” in press material they company circulates. Since the truck division is considered a strength of Chrysler and the Viper is the company's flagship model many considered both moves a bit odd at the time. These leaves auto journalists and analysts under the impression that executives wants to drop Dodge altogether and not just on the names of some vehicles.
It's not that Dodge doesn't have value and that it isn't a good marque for Chrysler-Fiat. It just doesn't make sense for the company's future plans. It's clear that sergio Marchionne wants to bring back Alfa Romeo, a luxury Italian brand, back to the US market. To do this they will want to utilize the existing dealership infrastructure the company already has. However Chrysler dealerships already have a lot of brand to choose from and the showroom might be getting a bit crowded to offer so many different automakers cars in the same place. Could Dodge get booted out of dealerships to make way for Alfa Romeo?
Recently Aaron Turpen cited that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the official corporate name for the company, released a new FCA logo. While the new logo isn't anything to really talk about is shows that Marchionne doesn't want to live in the past and is focusing on the future of his auto companies. With a weakened European market the FCA alliance is working on becoming leaner to stay alive and relevant. Is importing sexy Italian cars the way to do that? Possibly.
Dropping Dodge would have benefits for FCA. They wouldn't have to cross promote models against Chrysler and Jeep. The marketing and advertising budgets could be focused on bringing in Alfa Romeo as a brand into the minds of US consumers. Of course one look at an Alfa Romeos I'm pretty sure you wouldn't hesitate to buy one. (Cars like the Alfa Romeo 4C are hard to forget.) Additionally since Alfa Romeos are luxury cars they would charge a premium on them which means they would make better profits on them.
The disadvantage is that an Alfa Romeo buyer… well that's a lot different than a Dodge, Chrysler, or Jeep buyer. This is something that the Fiat has experienced firsthand as smalls for the small Italian car are nowhere near what FCA alliance anticipated.
Do you think it makes sense for Dodge to get the axe to make way for Alfa Romeo? Should Sergio Marchionne think of something else, like axing Chrysler?