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Dodge in Sales Dogfight


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Dodge in Sales Dogfight

By Eric Mayne

WardsAuto.com, Nov 5, 2010 9:00 AM

New products are headed to Dodge showrooms just in time, as Chrysler Group LLC’s storied brand plummets to 10th place in U.S.-market sales standings.

Dodge recorded 27,020 deliveries in October, triggering a plunge from September’s seventh-place ranking September and marking its worst monthly finish in more than three years, according to Ward’s data.

In July 2007, Dodge fell out of the top 10 and placed 11th, but there appears no danger of that happening soon, with 11th-place Subaru trailing more than 5,000 units.

Surging ahead of Chrysler’s highest-volume brand in October were GMC, Kia and pentastar-company stablemate, Jeep. GMC and Dodge traded positions from prior-month as Kia and Jeep held their respective spots.

Ford was the No.1 U.S. brand in October, trumping runner-up Chevrolet and third-place finisher Toyota.

Historically a top-6 performer, the brand has been leap-frogged by hard-charging Hyundai. For most of this year, Dodge has been duking it out with Kia for seventh place.

Despite Dodge’s descent in the rankings, its October sales were up from like-2009 – 10.9% on the car side and 3.1% in light trucks.

And through the first 10 months of this year, deliveries were tracking 38.6% ahead for cars and 7% for light trucks.

’11 Dodge Durango 25% stiffer than predecessor.

All but three Dodge nameplates were in the black last month, but members of that trio – the Avenger midsize sedan, Charger fullsize sedan and Grand Caravan minivan – are beneficiaries of updates considered among the most significant of Chrysler’s ’11 offerings.

The Avenger gets a new interior. Along with the Grand Caravan, it also will feature an upgraded suspension.

And like the Charger, both will be recipients of Chrysler’s all-new 3.6L Pentastar V-6.

Bowing in the all-new ’11 Jeep Grand Cherokee midsize SUV, the engine will be featured in 13 vehicles, near-term, eventually replacing seven 6-cyl. mills by 2013.

Also coming in ’11 is an all-new Dodge Durango midsize cross/utility vehicle. It shares a platform with the Grand Cherokee, widely acclaimed for improved refinement, compared with its predecessor.

Developed during Chrysler’s failed partnership with Daimler AG, the platform is scheduled to shoulder the next-generation M-Class CUV.

The unibody Durango, with three rows of seating and a unibody structure more than 25% stiffer than its body-on-frame predecessor, will be available in four trim levels with MSRPs ranging from $29,195 to $43,795, excluding destination charge.

The Journey CUV, like its larger Durango stablemate, gets the new Pentastar V-6 along with an all-new interior.

Rounding out Dodge’s major lineup changes for ’11 are powertrain upgrades for the iconic Challenger muscle car. The 3.6L Pentastar is tuned to deliver 305 hp, a bump of 55 hp, in the SE and R/T trim levels, while the Hemi V-8 in the Challenger SRT8 392 generates 470 hp to go with peak torque of 470 lb.-ft. (637 Nm).

The previous Challenger SRT8 boasted 425 hp and maximum torque of 420 lb.-ft. (569 Nm).

“When you walk into a Dodge dealership, you won't believe your eyes,” Dodge brand President and CEO Ralph Gilles says this week in a statement.

Dealers are most anxious about the Durango’s sales prospects.

“We went a whole year without an SUV,” says Dennis Lentz, sales representative at McPeek’s Dodge of Anaheim, in Anaheim, CA.

Under former owner Cerberus Capital Management LP, Chrysler killed the previous Durango and its Chrysler Aspen platform-mate as a cost-cutting measure.

“We’re all excited about the Durango right now,” Lentz tells Ward’s. “We think it will be a big hit for us.”



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They've gotta get the bread and butter fixed. The Caliber was uncompetitive years ago. The Avenger update is a nice try, but the preliminary looks aren't compelling enough to get people out of their AltiCamCordibusion, much less the risen Christ himself, the Sonata Turbo. They've gotta market the hell out the Caravan, Journey, Charger, and Durango for now until full replacements for the Caliber and Avenger can be made. Those two should be Dodge's best sellers and they are far from it without steep discounting. The new stuff has to be made known... they have to market it so hard (without major discounting) that we car buffs start getting tired of seeing adds for them.

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