Even though Dodge is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary this summer, the division is hardly showing its age by refreshing two key cars in its lineup and embarking on an ambitious road show to bring its full lineup to the public. Recent realignment of the Chrysler Group to create the separate Ram division for trucks previously sold by Dodge, and performance cars under the SRT banner, had some doubting the long term viability of the brand. But it's part of a broader repositioning that will allow Dodge to better focus on passenger vehicles and carve out a new, more premium brand identity.
Charger and Challenger Refresh
According to Tim Kuniskis, president and CEO of the Dodge brand, the facelift on the 2015 Dodge Charger and Challenger is an important part of demonstrating where the division is headed in its second century. "It is extremely important to what Dodge is. Combined Charger/Challenger sales are 150,000 units per year out of 600,000. People identify with the brand as a result of these two cars."
And while the '15 models are still some months off, the brand is offering a special leasing program called Dodge Double-Up which allows a customer to lease a 2014 model and trade it in a year later for a refreshed 2015 Dodge Charger or Challenger for the same monthly payment and no additional money down. If the customer ends up buying the 2015 model instead of continuing the lease they'll get a $1,000 incentive.
The facelift of the Challenger is more of an evolution of the current retro look, but the Charger features a more extensive change that aligns the front fascia with the compact Dart. By doing so, Dodge is underscoring the fact that these vehicles are meant to be premium entries. While Kuniskis admits the Dart doesn't sell as the same volume as other compacts, he believes that's the result of not having a bare bones $15,000 entry level model. "I don't compete in half the segment," he said, noting that the well-equipped 2014 Dodge Dart starts at just under $20,000. "In the segment I do compete, I get an 11 percent share. It's not like the other cars. It has great handling, an 8.5-inch touchscreen, and a lot of other features found a class above."
Dodge Power Rallye Tour
In order to get the message out about Dodge's premium positioning, the division is embarking on the Dodge Power Rallye Tour to bring the full line to more than 50 events across the country this summer. Among these events is Dodge's sponsorship of and participation in Motley Crue's "Final Tour". In addition to having the full line of vehicles, including special edition 100th anniversary models of the Charger and Challenger and a 30th anniversary edition of the Dodge Caravan, the program will provide test drive opportunities for the public. The tour will not only include traditional venues like state fairs, but also local festivals like the Taste of Omaha May 30-31, the Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival Aug. 21 and the Woodward Dream Cruise Aug. 16.
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