Looks Like It’s Business As Usual at Dodge

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2015 Dodge Journey Crossroad, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

It’s Fiat Chrysler Friday, apparently. Updates continue to trickle out of Italy, where FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne was hounded by press following the unveiling of his company’s five-year product plan.

A plan, it should be noted, that completely ignored Chrysler, Fiat, and Dodge. With talk of the four important global brands out of the way, Marchionne opened up on the lesser divisions. So, what does the future hold for Dodge, the most ignored brand of the day? Not a hell of a lot, apparently.

According to Wards Auto, which compiled Marchionne’s comments from the press scrum, the Dodge brand sticks to the current plan. Like Chrysler, Dodge isn’t in danger of disappearing from the United States.

“Those two brands are not in question,” the CEO said, silently referencing Fiat’s hazy domestic future.

Dodge will continue on as the automaker’s performance brand, he added. Future models will source their underpinnings from modified, existing platforms. That’s hardly news, as it’s expected that the (pushed back) 2021 redesign of the Dodge Charger and Challenger will see the models’ ancient LX platform give way to that the Maserati Ghibli. Other future products include a redesigned Journey and Durango, scheduled to appear next year. Those models adopt the Giorgio platform found beneath the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio.

Yes, the Journey will become a rear-drive “performance” crossover. Start planning your tearful goodbyes to the base model’s four-speed automatic.

It’s worth noting that the only Dodge vehicles to see a meaningful year-over-year sales increase in May were the long-in-the-tooth Journey (up 37 percent), and the similarly ancient Caravan (up 12 percent). The Challenger increased its U.S. tally by 16 vehicles compared to May of last year. While May brought a year-over-year sales increase for the brand as a whole, its volume over the first five months of 2018 undercuts last year’s sales by 6 percent.

Other tidbits leaking out of Italy this afternoon include Marchionne mentioning Chrysler’s future as a “people mover” brand, and a green one at that. Not surprisingly, a next-generation 300 sedan seems to be off the table. According to analyst Stephanie Brinley of IHS Automotive, Marchionne said, “Trying to build a position in sedan is not helpful.”

Meanwhile, while the Fiat brand stands to slowly depart from our shores, FCA isn’t saying goodbye just yet. It seems that, like before, the brand will serve a strategic green purpose. Marchionne admitted hating the all-electric 500e when it debuted in America earlier this decade, adding that it was necessary to lower the automaker’s corporate average fuel economy and satisfy the EPA and CARB. It’s still the only true electric in the automaker’s U.S. lineup.

Well, there’s a new 500 emerging from Europe in 2020. Built on a new platform, the little city car will boast mild hybrid and electric variants, as well as a Giardiniera wagon version (which might have more than two side doors). It isn’t known for sure if the next-gen 500e will arrive on these shores, but Marchionne’s successor might need it.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]