Tavares talks about Dodge, Chrysler brands, even if models disappear
Stefano GuidiGetty Images
- The Chrysler and Dodge product lines have been gutted over many years.
- But Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares (above) is optimistic about the future of both brands – and all 14 Stellantis brands – because they are all making money, he told reporters this week.
- While it’s important to stay humble, Tavares also said Stellantis “will be Tesla’s only credible challenger – you’ll see that.”
Reading the tea leaves in Detroit over the past month, one might have serious questions about the viability of two legendary brands – Chrysler and Dodge – which have been merged since the former acquired the latter in 1928.
Since then, both brands have reinvented themselves many times with the introduction of small cars, station wagons, minivans, convertibles, performance cars, crossovers and SUVs, some more well received than others. .
The passage of time, however, has emptied the range of each brand. Dodge pickup trucks are now part of Ram, and the Challenger coupe and Charger sedan will disappear next year, leaving only the 2023 Durango SUV and Hornet compact crossover in the lineup.
Things look to be even more dire for the Chrysler brand. When the 300 sedan ends production next year (on the same platform as the Challenger/Charger), Chrysler will only have the brand-badged Pacifica minivan. Look back 15 years, and Chrysler had seven different models in its portfolio; 10 years ago, that number fell to three.
This type of pairing is familiar – it happened before Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Mercury, Saturn and countless other discontinued brands disappeared. So far, parent company Stellantis has announced an all-electric Dodge Charger Daytona SRT concept as a preview of a production model that will arrive by 2024.
Such a promise has yet to be made on the product front for Chrysler, although Stellantis promises that Chrysler will launch its first battery-electric vehicle in 2025 – possibly a production version of the Chrysler Airflow concept – and have a complete portfolio of electric batteries. by 2028.
Chrysler and Dodge are just two of Stellantis Group’s 14 brands worldwide, and CEO Carlos Tavares seems quite optimistic about the future of these two legacy American brands, based on his comments to reporters this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. .
“I’m a happy CEO,” he said in response to a question about how Stellantis manages so many car brands, including Peugeot, Alfa Romeo and Fiat in Europe. “I’m a privileged guy who watches fantastic things made on a brand-by-brand basis.”
He laughs at the question he’s often asked about whether it’s possible to “love all 14 of your children.” But he says that “the level of passion is very high” in every brand within Stellantis, and that his main task is to “give them direction to avoid repeating the mistakes that I myself have made during my career”.
Tavares did not provide financial details, but he said the 14 Stellantis brands (which in the US also include Jeep and Ram) are on solid footing.
“All of our brands are now making money – without exception – by improving their revenue, improving their bottom line,” he told reporters, noting that the revenue stream is fueling other investments in products and marketing communications. “The company is able to monetize the value we create. We give a lead to each brand.
He scanned the North American portfolio, referring to the obvious strengths of the Jeep and Ram brands, but then brought up Chrysler and Dodge, despite the outward signs of trouble.
“We had questions about Chrysler’s positioning,” he said, noting that the luxury brand’s stature has changed over decades. When Chrysler’s rebound plan is fully cooked, Tavares said Chrysler brand CEO Christine Feuell will explain it.
As for Dodge, Tavares said the best-known muscle car brand is “making a fantastic transformation” and converting the brand to full electrification “will give the brand even more American muscle.”
The profitability of Dodge and Chrysler, which must be slim considering the number of vehicles involved, makes all the difference. “As long as we’re making money, we don’t have to rush. I can testify to what I see,” Tavares said, referring to the passion and talent of the employees. He spoke of “sometimes dark and chaotic times”, but then said: “I’m not worried (because) I know I have the people to get through all of this”.
And while it’s important to stay humble, Tavares also said Stellantis “will be Tesla’s only credible challenger – you’ll see that.”
On that electrification front, Tavares said Stellantis will invest $35 billion over the next five years in software and battery electric vehicles, which is half of the company’s planned R&D spending, with plans to have a fully electric vehicle portfolio in Europe by 2030, while in North America the goal is to reach 50% by 2030.
While Stellantis is clearly behind cross-town rivals Ford and General Motors, which already have electric vehicles in the US market, Tavares said Stellantis will start next year with an all-electric ProMaster commercial van, which will be followed by at least 25 all-electric vehicles. by the end of the decade.
Are you confident or concerned about the future of the Dodge and Chrysler brands in the United States? Please comment below.