DETROIT – The Dodge Avenger and its200 midsize-sedan counterpart are nearing a midcycle refresh, but is the former due for a new name as well?
It’s possible,Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois says, but Dodge fans will just have to wait and see.
Dodge has assembled a lineup of products banking on the heritage of the brand and the nostalgia of drivers who recall its presence in the muscle-car days.
It started with the Charger, a nameplate from the 1960s revived in 2006 for the fullsize sedan. Next came the Challenger, a full revival of the 1970s-era muscle car. The latest model-name revival is that of this year’s Dart, a badge first used by Chrysler in 1960.
The Avenger slots between the Dart and Charger, but that nameplate only has been in use in North America by Chrysler since 1995. Chrysler did sell a Dodge Avenger in South Africa throughout the 1970s.
Chrysler has more old-school names in stock; the Polara, Monaco, Daytona and Lancer immediately come to mind. Francois is well aware of this, telling WardsAuto: “The name is part of the heritage, part of the DNA. We will engage in the Dodge brand and see what (drivers) want.”
The auto maker also employs a numerical system for some current models. A 100 compact is planned to slot below the 200 midsize and 300 fullsize sedans.
In the meantime, Dodge’s influence continues to grow. Francois points to the success of theFreemont in Europe, a rebadged version of the Dodge Journey cross/utility vehicle re-introduced in 2011.
“It found a perfect fit in therange,” Francois says of the Freemont. “What the small Panda is providing as a small car, a capable 4x4, the Freemont has provided something like this.”
European buyers have warmed to the CUV despite its American underpinnings.
“We’re not trying to pretend these cars are made in Italy,” Francois says. “We know that the potential for bigger cars (in Europe) is quite limited. But the size of the market allowed us to invest in a brand-new platform.”