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Return to Glory Days? Dodge hoping to reach...

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Link: http://www.autoweek.com/news.cms?newsId=103031

Return to Glory Days? Dodge hoping to reach record sales numbers by '08

MARY CONNELLY | Automotive News

Posted Date: 8/24/05

DETROIT -- The new executive running Dodge says the brand needs to get sales volume back to its peak years.

Within three years, Dodge will get new product needed to fuel a return to stronger sales, says Steven Landry.

At its peak, Dodge sold nearly 1.5 million units annually, about 300,000 more than in 2004.

On Sept. 1, Landry, 46, takes over as vice president of Dodge marketing. He replaces Darryl Jackson, 44, who will run one of the Chrysler group's eight sales regions. The men are swapping jobs.

"Our goal is that over the next three years we get Dodge back to its highest volume of the last decade," Landry says.

Dodge sold 1,189,894 units in the United States last year. Its peak was 1,498,067 units in 1999. Sales exceeded 1.4 million in 1998 and 2000 as well.

Dealer Jim Arrigo, owner of Arrigo Dodge in West Palm Beach, Fla., says Dodge waited while the Chrysler group replenished Chrysler and Jeep product lineups: "Things got a little old while they were revamping Chrysler Jeep. Our future is going to be all about volume."

Fresh lineup

New product en route to Dodge stores through 2008 will spur sales growth, Landry says.

"All vehicles have a cycle. All brands have a cycle. We have been playing a little bit of catch-up," Landry says. "The replacement vehicles are coming now."

New products include the Dodge Charger sedan, Ram Mega Cab, Caliber entry-level wagon, a replacement for the Stratus sedan and a small SUV based on the Jeep Liberty.

The focus on volume will help boost dealer profitability, a "top issue" for retailers, says Jon Myers, chairman of the Dodge National Dealer Council and owner of Naples Dodge in Naples, Fla.

Dodge dealers continue to seek a vehicle smaller than the Dodge Neon, a convertible and medium-duty 4500 and 5500 trucks, Myers says.

The Chrysler group has studied a low-cost small car but has no plans to build it, CEO-designate Tom LaSorda said last week.

Dodge will retain its current brand image, Landry says. The company uses the words "bold, powerful and capable" to describe Dodge.

Dealer guy

Many Dodge dealers already know Landry. He was the Chrysler group's vice president of dealer operations in 2001. "He is what a lot of us would term 'a dealer guy,' " Myers says. "He understands our issues."

Landry joined Chrysler in 1982. In his new job at Dodge, he is responsible for global marketing and is involved in product planning.

In his previous position he was vice president of the Great Lakes Business Center for the Chrysler group. Jackson now takes that job.

Jackson will be responsible for sales, marketing, parts and service for 520 dealerships in four states.

Bryan Zvibleman, Chrysler group spokesman, says: "This gives Darryl experience in sales and Steven experience in marketing."

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Link: http://www.autoweek.com/news.cms?newsId=103031


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