Long ago, Dodge was wholly associated with performance and style. Even in the very beginning, when the Dodge brothers showcased their very first Model 30 in 1914, the brand was about power and prestige, offering a handful of expensive features uncommon in more popular brands. At its height, Dodge offered a fleet of beautiful, impressive machines, finely tuned to provide drivers the comfort, coolness, and control they most desired.
Unfortunately, not long after its magnificent rise, Dodge — under Chrysler’s supervision — broadened its scope, becoming an economical, family-friendly brand. Since the 1980s, Dodge has produced cautious sedans, minivans, and trucks marketed to practical drivers looking for safety over style and price over performance. Yet, soon enough, the tides shall change once again.
During a 12-hour presentation of its five-year business plan, Dodge’s parent company Fiat Chrysler outlined exactly what it plans to do with the historic Dodge name in the coming years. And we can’t wait for what’s in store.
The New-Old Brand Identity
Dodge’s new brand purpose was stated in its five-year plan presentation: “In defense of driving.” The company believes the American driving population has become apathetic toward cars due to the dearth of exhilarating (and also affordable) models on the market. Dodge hopes to fill this void with a line of purely performance-focused cars, which will inspire drivers to once again enjoy the road. After all, Dodge’s promotional material rightly states, “No kid ever grew up with a poster of a Passat on his bedroom wall.”
So Long, Mass Market
The lackluster, family-friendly models of Dodge’s recent past are dead. The company pulled the Avenger off the production line late last year, and the bulky Grand Caravan heads to the chopping block in 2016. Meanwhile, most of the other mainstays will be revamped to “align with Dodge brand DNA” — that is, look edgier and cooler than ever before. Dodge’s only mid-size crossover SUV, the Journey, has been wowing critics since its release in 2009, but it should see some restyling in the coming years. Additionally, the Dodge Dart is going to transform from a cute compact to a formidable mid-size competitor.
Dodge’s three main stars will be, the Charger, and the Durango. The company selected these models for their established “personalities” on the road — i.e. their iconic appearance. Additionally, Dodge is confident in these cars’ value, as they offer luxurious looks at affordable price points.
Already, the public has gotten a taste of Dodge’s brand revolution with the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, which roared onto streets this year. With more than 700 horsepower and speeds up to 200 miles per hour, the Hellcat is easily the most exciting car to hit the American market in decades. If we can expect more muscular beauties like the Hellcat in Dodge’s future lineup, we will be lucky drivers, indeed.
The Influence of Millennials
In many ways, the spending power of young adults has spurred this dramatic change from Dodge. The company reports that millennials and young generation X-ers make up the bulk of the brand’s fans, and their tastes run contrary to the brand’s leanings in recent decades. It seems that Dodge is adapting to the desires of these younger buyers to maintain their profits, and they are doing so in more ways than one.
Besides the company’s toils to present a lineup of high-performance vehicles with distinct style — indeed, the “youthfulness” of the Challenger, Charger, and Durango were one of the key reasons these cars remain on the road — Dodge has reimagined its marketing strategy. Like most companies catering to younger tastes, Dodge has taken to atypical advertising strategies, including viral media on the Web. Some argue that it was Dodge’s strategic marketing — not the car’s eye-catching style and impressive power — that made dealerships sell out of Hellcats within weeks of its release. Nevertheless, it’s obvious that Dodge’s attention to young buyer’s wants and needs is paying off.
The Waiting Game
We absolutely concur with Dodge’s assessment of the current American automobile market: Heart-pounding, adrenaline-pumping, blood-rushing cars no longer exist at a price point most Americans can reach. Of course, such monumental, company-wide change won’t happen overnight, much to our chagrin. Thus, we eagerly await any and all new releases from Dodge in the coming weeks, months, and years. We’ve been waiting this long for such an exciting upheaval of the American auto industry — we can wait a few years more.
Dodge logo photo by Brett Levin Photography from Flickr’s Creative Commons
Dodge Hellcat photo by Nie Photography from Flickr’s Creative Commons