The Dodge model is a little bit of a conundrum, and it would not assist that for 2021 it has been diminished to a few autos: Two ageing muscle vehicles and a large three-row SUV. (The Grand Caravan minivan kinda-sorta lives on—or no less than retains getting stays of execution, but is slated to die.) As FCA heads into a merger with PSA Group, creating the fourth-largest automaker on the earth made, the possibilities of the brand new entity culling manufacturers from its intensive portfolio appear quite excessive. It in the end begs the query: Will Dodge survive within the long-term? And even the medium-term?
We talked to Tim Kuniskis, who oversees Dodge as a part of his function as head of passenger vehicles for FCA North America, about the way forward for the American mark. Whereas Dodge is including ever extra trims and high-output variations to its Challenger, Charger, and Durango mannequin traces, it is also sending two of its nameplates to the nice scrap heap within the sky. Right here, we have gathered what Kuniskis cites as Dodge’s redeeming qualities and enterprise state transferring ahead:
Goodbye Dodge Journey and Grand Caravan
Gone for the 2021 mannequin 12 months are the Dodge Journey crossover and the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan. For the three years, Kuniskis acknowledged the fashions do not match Dodge’s DNA, however gross sales remained sturdy and the 2 folks movers managed to keep away from the chopping block. Till now, that’s. “We’re on the level the place we drew a line within the sand and stated, ‘that is it, that is the final 12 months, we’re not going to do them anymore,'” Kuniskis shared, including that neither the pandemic nor the merger pushed the choice.
Nonetheless, Kuniskis sees a task for Dodge after the merger of FCA and PSA is full, and he famous the great thing about a “home of manufacturers” is that it affords every to have its personal distinctive and separate identification within the market. Briefly, no particular person model must attempt to be all issues to all clients.
Hellcat Will not Meet Future Laws within the Durango
The model chief additionally is aware of his muscle vehicles are topic to criticism for being outdated and for having what some see as ridiculous energy. We’re unsure who thinks there’s a such factor as an excessive amount of horsepower, particularly democratized at comparatively inexpensive value factors, however hey. Dodge including a Hellcat engine to its Durango household SUV is extra pink meat for the critics. However Kuniskis is aware of Dodge clients recognize the model’s one-upmanship mentality. The model, and FCA, virtually lives and breathes on the saying “Hellcat the entire issues,” which circulates in some fanatic circles—main even designer Ralph Gilles to sketch a Hellcatted Chrysler Pacifica minivan in what wasn’t clearly a joke.
Even when it’s only short-term, as is the case with the Durango Hellcat, which will likely be provided just for the 2021 mannequin 12 months because of the engine being unable to fulfill more durable rules coming for the 2022 mannequin 12 months, energy is integral to Dodge’s picture. Fortunately, it is not the Hellcat engine per se, that may’t meet rules—however the mixture of the powerplant and the Durango’s platform. In different phrases, the supercharged Hemi continues to be good to go within the Challenger and Charger for the 2022 mannequin 12 months (and the foreseeable future). Whew!
5 years after its introduction within the Challenger Hellcat, the high-horsepower engine is displaying no indicators of slowing down. It has in that point discovered its manner into a complete of virtually 40,000 Dodge autos. In actual fact, the engine meeting plant can barely sustain with demand. “There is no manner we might have known as that. We now have scrambled many occasions to extend capability,” Kuniskis stated.
Dodge Will not Go Quietly
“Sooner or later, one thing should change, there isn’t any query,” Kuniskis confessed. “I am not going quietly into that new actuality. The necessities get extra stringent each single 12 months and, in some unspecified time in the future, we gotta do one thing.” Nonetheless, the model’s head would not share if a next-generation Charger or Challenger, each of which presently trip on a platform that dates again to 2005, are within the works. Nor would Kuniskis elaborate when requested if there are extra future fashions deliberate for Dodge.
However, the model will—in time—embrace electrification and the efficiency potential that electrical motors can present. Dodge doesn’t want to totally shift to battery electrical autos, Kuniskis stated, as gasoline-electric hybrids present the torque, energy, and visceral driving expertise befitting the model’s DNA. Good factor, too, as a result of clearly, Dodge is counting on that high-octane DNA to justify its existence.