Fleet News

Dodge courts fleets in major new sales push

FLEET operators in Britain are to play a key role in ambitious plans to launch the Dodge car brand across Europe.

UK parent company DaimlerChrysler wants to know how the business transport sector will rate the bold new sport utility vehicle it is lining up to spearhead the arrival of the US model range next year.

Due to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show next month, the Caliber SUV (pictured) is still to get the go-ahead for production – but discussions centred on the car’s fleet prospects are slated to go ahead in the next few weeks.

Chrysler Group global sales executive vice- president Joe Eberhardt, said: ‘The green light for Caliber is nothing more than a formality and if I were a betting man, I’d be putting all my money on this one. That’s why I want our people here to get talks under way with decision-makers in the fleet industry. The company car sector will play an important part in helping us shape our plans for the future.’

Speaking as the next-generation Dodge was previewed to the media in London, he predicted that the five-door compact model would soon prove to be the brand’s best-seller.

He said: ‘We have a clear identity for Dodge. It’s bold, confident and assertive – and Caliber has it all. The car is a winner and it represents an outstanding opportunity for us to make our mark in Europe.’

According to Eberhardt, DaimlerChrysler is expecting its portfolio of Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands to reach annual sales of 200,000 units in the EU by the end of the decade – double the number currently being achieved by the Chrysler and Jeep brands.

He added: ‘We haven’t established our volume plans yet, but that figure means Dodge will be accounting for about 70,000 units and I’d expect half of that number to be taken by this car.’

At a simultaneous event staged at the Chicago Motor Show, the company also revealed its Nitro concept – the first mid-size Dodge SUV and the model tipped to follow the Caliber in 2007.

How Dodge plans to win UK customers

COMPARED with Ford and Vauxhall, Dodge will be a small player when it arrives on the UK market next year.

But aggressive pricing might still make it a big hit with company car buyers.

Even though it will have unique features and boast superior equipment levels, the US brand is likely to cost up to 15% less than its rivals.

Global sales chief Joe Ebergardt admitted: ‘Our product range will have to be pitched lower than the relevant competition. That has to be an important element of our sales strategy.’

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