Dodge in the UK: An American Abroad

The Dodge brand has apparently been axed in the UK, with the Journey large MPV removed from price lists.

The Journey was the last model remaining in the Dodge range, following the removal of the Caliber large family car and Nitro mid-size SUV earlier this year. The Avenger saloon was deleted in 2009, while the Dodge Ram pick-up was removed in 2007.

Dodge, part of the Chrysler family, has suffered poor sales in the UK, with its small model range saddled with a poor reputation in comparison to other volume models on the market.

Dodge sold 3,911 models in 2008, but that figure fell by a third the following year and sales collapsed completely in 2010. Just 18 Dodge models were sold in August 2010, with a mere 526 sold over the year to date.

With no new volume Dodge models on the horizon, tumbling sales, a poor reputation and Fiat juggling a number of brands; Dodge may be gone from the UK market for good.

Chrysler has not fared much better since the company went into a managed bankruptcy, followed by a shotgun wedding to Fiat in 2009.

The Chrysler marque sold only 895 models to the end of August 2010, with sales for the month nearly 80 per cent down on August 2009.

The Chrysler family has also been steadily whittled away over the last two years, with only the Chrysler 300C exec and Chrysler Grand Voyager remaining following the deletion of the Chrysler Sebring in saloon and convertible formats and the PT Cruiser.

Jeep has fared a little better, with generally stronger products selling 1,231 from January to August 2010. Its model range currently consists of the Wrangler, Patriot and Grand Cherokee.

Styled as a budget model range in the UK, Dodge models were presented as inexpensive and striking alternatives to more traditional volume fare from the likes of Ford and Vauxhall; a tactic adopted by the likes of Asian manufacturers trying to gain a foothold in Western markets over the last three decades.

But, despite competitive pricing and discounting, Dodge models rarely won favourable reviews and poor residual values will also have dented buyer confidence.

The Avenger saloon, a rebadged Chrysler Sebring, sold only 1,138 models in total and I described it as ‘not a sensible purchase’.

The SUV-cum-hatchback Caliber initially won plaudits for its looks and aggressive pricing, but was judged to be short of European standards.

The Nitro large SUV was tasked with taking on inexpensive mid-size SUVs like the Hyundai Sante Fe, Kia Sorento and Chevrolet Captiva – offering distinctive styling, strong specification and an attractive price tag, but was criticised for the quality of its interior and drive.

The Journey was, perhaps, considered the strongest Dodge model on sale in the UK, with a strong VW engine, high versatility and non-MPV styling.

However, the Dodge offering was not up to the standard of competitors, and sales collapsed in the last months of Dodge’s presence in the UK market.

Dodge will continue to be sold in some European markets, though Fiat is known to be considering introducing the budget Lancia brand to the UK market.

Whether that means Dodge or Chrysler models will be rebadged as Lancia – or Lancia models rebadged as Chryslers – in the future remains to be seen.

The Dodge Viper muscle car in still scheduled to hit UK shores in 2012, though there must now be some doubts about the car’s arrival.

The car may sell in the UK as a niche offering in Chrysler dealerships; though it may be offered as an import only through third-party distributors.

The prospect of the Charger or Challenger making it to the UK, although never appearing particularly likely, looks non-existent in light of this recent news.

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