In-your-face US marque Dodge will join DaimlerChrysler SA’s stable next year, and the public can expect to see bold products – epitomised by the Caliber concept – on the local market soon.

In-your-face US marque Dodge will join DaimlerChrysler SA’s stable next year and the public can expect to see bold products – epitomised by the Caliber concept – on the local market soon.


“The January 2004 announcement of the intended international Dodge roll-out takes on new significance to the South African consumer with the local announcement of the brand’s impending expansion in SA during 2006,” Trent Barcroft, DCSA’s Chrysler and Jeep division manager said last week.


“The focus in South Africa, and other international markets, will be on passenger cars, even though in the US the Dodge brand is often associated with pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans. This new Dodge portfolio, along with existing and future Chrysler and Jeep vehicles, will allow us to offer a range of products covering virtually all segments of the passenger car market.”


The new Dodge models, combined with planned Chrysler and Jeep new product launches, will more than double the number of Chrysler Group vehicles available outside North America in the next four years. The number of right-hand drive and diesel-equipped models will also more than double in this period.


The portfolio of Dodge cars will be sold alongside Chrysler and Jeep products in most of South Africa’s existing dealer outlets.


“Dodge has been an American icon and a winning brand for 90 years and, on the eve of the Dodge brand’s introduction to Europe at the Geneva Motor Show, the time is right to introduce Dodge to South African customers,” Barcroft added.


Dodge models, which are characterised by bold styling and an emphasis on performance, are currently sold only in the USA, Canada, Mexico, and in a small number of export markets. But an all-new product line-up, designed to European specifications and requirements, will be available for sale in the second half of 2006.


One example of Dodge’s “world cars” is the Dodge Caliber concept, which was simultaneously unveiled in London and at the Chicago Motor Show last week. The five-door Caliber will ostensibly appeal to buyers looking for an individualistic compact car with the flexibility of an MPV and machismo of an SUV. It may also form the basis of the vehicle that will replace the long-serving Chrysler Neon on the South African market in the near future, sources say.


The Caliber has a 2635-mm wheelbase and is 4 414 mm long, 1 743 mm wide and 1 534 mm high. Its crosshair grille features prominently in the vehicle’s muscular front view. Wide, sculpted wheel forms, 19-inch wheels and tyres, broad shoulders and a bulging hood (bonnet) give Caliber a powerful stance. Large, crystal headlamps and fog lights complement the chrome grille and create an integrated look that completes the car’s modular appearance.


“This concept is a new slant on one of the world’s most competitive segments. The Dodge Caliber concept brings emotion to the C-segment and strongly hints at the future direction of Dodge in the global car market,” said Trevor Creed, the Chrysler Group’s senior vice president of Design.


The overall design of the Caliber is unashamedly macho in its execution. It has chrome door handles and bodyside mouldings, a black roof spoiler with centre high-mounted stop lamp, chrome exhaust tail pipe, and large, modular crystal tail lamps.


“The much anticipated Doge brand is finally here, with an integrated, multi-disciplinary marketing and brand roll-out preceding the arrival to the first vehicles in 2006,” said DCSA Dodge Project Leader and Chrysler and Jeep marketing manager Guy Franken. “These products will embody the powerful and bold American attributes of the brand in an affordable package that meets the tastes and needs of our customers.


“The Dodge ‘Grab life by the Horns’ philosophy means South Africans will soon be enjoying the bold masculine power that is Dodge worldwide,” Franken added. “A full range of Dodge products will reach our shores over the next five years, and SA consumers can follow the brand’s international expansion on www.discoverdodge.com. A local Dodge South Africa website, will launch later this year.”