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Dodge ends the Journey

Journey’s end: The departure of the Journey large crossover marks the end of a decade of Dodge Down Under, but FCA Australia is eyeing the future range.

Journey dropped from Australian line-up but Dodge brand to remain

Dodge logo14 Oct 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

DODGE is contradicting the adage that the most important part of any adventure is not the destination but the journey, following confirmation that it has dropped the Journey large crossover from its Australian line-up.

With ailing sales that have fallen into the 20s per month and no further updates on the horizon, the North American car-maker has decided to bring the Journey to an end and focus on more popular models under the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) umbrella.

Speaking at a media event this week, FCA Australia’s recently appointed president and CEO Steve Zanlunghi confirmed that no more Journey stock would be coming Down Under.

“Dodge is in the process of running out its final vehicle – the Journey – and we will look at a possibility of future vehicles,” he said. “These will be re-looked at when we have products that suit a business case.”

While Australian customers will not be able to buy a new Dodge after the final Journey has been sold, Mr Zanlunghi said that the brand would not disappear and service centres would continue to carry the Dodge name until an, as yet, unconfirmed model is introduced.

“We will keep the service mandates out there but the new product will depend on the business cases that we put together.”

Dropping the Journey would appear to have been an easy decision given that FCA Australia was effectively doubling-up by introducing the closely-related Fiat Freemont in 2013, which is available with three engine choices including the 3.6-litre V6 that powers the Journey.

When fitted with a Fiat badge, the V6 Crossroad variant is almost identical in appearance to the Journey and at $39,000 plus on-roads, costs the same.

The Freemont does slightly better in the sales stakes, moving 367 to the end of September this year versus 336 Journeys.

The future of the brand has hung in the balance since 2012 when FCA Australia announced its plans to roll out an expanding range that looked likely to swallow up Dodge opportunities, but the car-maker clung to the market for another three years clocking up a decade since its reintroduction in 2006.

Possibilities that could rekindle Dodge Down Under include the Challenger and Charger coupe and sedan pair that are not currently available in right-hand drive, but FCA has expressed a keen interest in the two models.

If given the green light for Australia, the Challenger would act as a direct rival to Ford’s runaway success and unchallenged Mustang, while the Charger sedan would fill a gap in the lean muscle market following the departure of the Ford Falcon and imminent end of the Australian-built Holden Commodore.

Local petrol-heads will have everything crossed for the Hellcat flagship versions of both models, which are powered by a mighty supercharged V8 with 527kW at its disposal.

As for the other American FCA brands, Chrysler is safe for now, led by the 300 large sedan, but others are on the way according to Mr Zanlunghi.

“We have a pretty good business case with 300C and we have vehicles in the pipeline,” he said. “We would be looking at the Hellcat, for example, and at anything that can move our business forward.”

Mr Zanlunghi also repeated the company’s previously reported interest in the entry-level 1500 version of the Ram upper-large truck that is already distributed locally by American Special Vehicles (ASV) in 2500 and 3500 guises.

“The Ram 1500 may come if we can get it at the right price. It’s under review”.

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