AUBURN HILLS –Group plans to announce its decision on whether it will market Dodge brand products in Europe at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
While refusing to reveal whether plans will move forward to sell Dodges in Europe,Group CEO Dieter Zetsche confirms the timing of the announcement.
“We intend to tell (you) all about it at the Detroit motor show,” Zetsche tells Ward’s during an interview here.
Choosing Detroit to deliver the news is an indication Chrysler, indeed, has positive news to share.
Chrysler has been working on a business plan that would make Dodge profitable in the European market. The auto maker has been weighing different scenarios for distribution, sales and marketing programs, according to Joe Eberhardt, Chrysler’s executive vice president-global sales and marketing.
“The question is whether we can do it in a cost-efficient and profitable way, both for us and, more importantly, for the dealer network. It is a process that is not easy (and) can be quite costly, and we want to make sure that before we do it we have a business plan that can help support and substantiate that position,” he tells Ward’s.
Eberhardt believes both the Chrysler and Dodge brands can coexist in Europe without battling for the same customer base.
“It might actually help a little bit (to have both in Europe) because they are so unique in their positionings,” he says. “Dodge is really powerful, bold, expressive, American performance and design, so you have the ability to target two different segments with very different brands.”
Chrysler always has maintained it needs three or four credible Dodge products to launch in Europe, including the Viper and some small passenger cars.
At one point, the go-ahead was linked to the decision whether to produce the Dodge M80 compact pickup. Chrysler earlier this year killed the M80 project, citing the inability to produce it profitably given the sluggish economy, heavy incentives and overcapacity in today’s marketplace.