What’s going on at Dodge? Once a mainstream brand with an ass for every seat, it has slowly turned into a company hellbent on Hellcats and muscle cars. Old muscle cars at that. The LX platform which the Challenger and Charger (and Chrysler 300) are based upon came out in 2004 as 2005 models. That means this platform was developed 20 years ago. We know there is precedent for doing this with the Ford Model T and Volkswagen Beetle, but c’mon. This is almost 2021. So now Dodge drops the Journey and Grand Caravan. It’s only sedans and superchargers now. How long can they last?
There are lots of things that come to mind with this announcement. First, it seems that all of Fiat Chrysler is hanging by a thread for the merger with PSA Group. New models keep getting pushed back always just beyond this merger or that. These LX sedans should have been replaced eons ago. Yet, Dodge keeps upping the horsepower and widebodies to keep just enough interest to sell a few more of these “Brotherhood Of Muscle” creations.
Dropping the Journey and Caravan is surprising because their numbers weren’t bad
Then there’s the dropping of the Journey and Caravan. Surprisingly, their numbers are not bad at all. Without doing much of anything including marketing, the Journey sold over 75,000 units last year. Its best years, it hit over 100,000, so its 2019 numbers are not that far off. And the Journey has consistently sold in this range forever.
As for the Caravan, it is synonymous with the Dodge brand. And both Dodge and Chrysler are synonymous with the minivan segment. They invented it. And the numbers for 2019 were 122,648 units. That’s not a bad number either. Granted, it is far from its 300,000 unit sales of the late-1990s. But over 100,000 units in this age is doing well. Why isn’t the same philosophy keeping the sedans around applied to the Journey and Caravan?
It seems a bit schizophrenic. Maybe Dodge is looking ahead to what it might glomb from the merger and sees fresh, technologically updated platforms to replace these aging models? Maybe there is more intrinsic value in the supercharged sedans to help position the brand better once the merger happens? We’re just spitballing here.
“We’ve been growing this brand by enabling our buyers to grow within it”
This is what Tim Kuniskis told Automotive News about the latest news, “These three vehicles address the varying life stages of our consumers. Three vehicles that can go from cool to crazy with just a single check of a box on the order form. If you step back a little bit and think about what we’ve been doing, we’ve been growing this brand by enabling our buyers to grow within it, to grow with us.”
For all of the hoopla, there really isn’t much new. A functional hood scoop and better quarter-mile times are the extents of it. Oh, and some new colors and the “Redeye” package.
“We’ve added performance variants that appeal to a much wider range of customers”
“A lot of it has to do with Dodge staying laser-focused on the core attributes that our customers want, Kuniskis continued. “Over the last five years, we’ve made substantial investments in our core products.” “We’ve nearly doubled our horsepower levels. We’ve nearly doubled the number of gears in our transmissions, and we’ve added performance variants that appeal to a much wider range of customers.”
While all of this is true it still seems like a bit of vaporware. We applaud Dodge for going all-in with horsepower and tweaks. It just seems like you need much more to maintain an automobile brand.