At the time, their factory was located in Hamtramck, Michigan. It was referred to as the Dodge Main from 1910 through 1980 when it closed. Dodge has been through many owners, including Dillion, Read & Co., Chrysler, and now the FCA US LLC.
Since 2011, the Dodge and Ram brands have been separated. As part of the FCA US LLC, they are part of a larger corporate structure.
A Brief History Of Dodge
When Was Dodge Founded?
John and Horace Dodge founded the Dodge Brothers Company in 1900. They were based out of Detroit and grew their business rapidly by working on chassis components and engine parts for the various automakers in the city. Some of their most significant clients were the Ford Motor Company and Olds Motor Vehicle Company.
Their first machine shop was located on Beaubien Street in the Boydell Building. Later, that location moved to the facility at Monroe Avenue and Hastings Street, now used as a parking garage for a casino. In 1910, they built the Main Factory in Hamtramck, and that’s where they remained through 1979.
In 1916, the Dodge Brothers ranked second in all of U.S. sales because of the high-quality vehicles they produced. In that same year, Henry Ford quit paying dividends on the construction of the River Rouge complex. This caused the Dodges to file a suit which protected their stock earnings, totaling $1 million. In the end, Ford bought out his shareholders, leaving the brothers with $25 million.
In 1916, the brothers received acclaim for their military service. The U.S. Army used a fleet consisting of 150 and 250 vehicles from the Dodge brothers for convoys. This was during the Pancho Villa Expedition near the Mexican border in the 1910s. They also utilized touring vehicles for surveillance and staff. Even General Pershing used one of the touring cars to watch the army’s movements.
In May, the 6th Infantry had a reported sighting of a subordinate, Julio Cárdenas. Lieutenant Patton led his soldiers and guides for the country’s first motorized raid in three Dodge Model 30 touring vehicles. In the firefight, they killed three men including Cárdenas. They tied the dead bodies to the hoods of their vehicles and returned them to the headquarters.
In total, there were almost 13,000 Dodge vehicles used during the First World War. More than 8,000 touring cars were part of the war with another 2,600 commercial automobiles, including panel vans and screen-side trucks. These worked mainly as repair trucks and ambulances.
In 1920, the brothers continued to rank second in the American market. That same year, John Dodge came down with pneumonia and died. Later, that same year, Horace passed away from cirrhosis, but many claim it was due to grief for his brother.
The widows promoted Frederick Haynes as the new president. He had been a long-time employee of the company. During the 1920s, the company fell back down to seventh in the United States.
Stagnation set in for the company, so the widows sold the company to Dillion, Reed & Co. in 1925 for at least $146 million. At the time of the sale, it was the largest recorded in United States history.
Once they became owners, they offered some non-voting stock and raised $160 million, turning a $14 million profit. They maintained all the voting stock and allowed Haynes to remain as the president, even when E.G. Wilmer took over as the board chairman in 1926.
The company continued to struggle, causing them to look for a better owner. In 1928, Dodge sold out to the Chrysler Corporation.
Fitting in with Chrysler
In the early 1930s, Dodge focused on fitting into the Chrysler lineup. They needed to sell alongside the lower-priced Plymouth vehicles and the DeSoto. In response to this, they trimmed down their automobiles to two lines that contained thirteen models. Prices started just above the DeSoto but were less than the higher-end Chryslers.
In 1930, Dodge also added an eight-cylinder engine to replace its Senior six-cylinder. Their basic format remained through 1933. To increase production, Chrysler built a new factory in Los Angeles in 1932. This location manufactured DeSoto, Plymouth, Dodge, and Chrysler vehicles at the time, but later closed down in 1971.
In 1934, the DeLuxe Six took over for the Eight but only lasted through 1935. There was also a longer-wheelbase model of the Six added during 1935, and that remained part of the company’s lineup over several years.
During the 1939 model year, Dodge released the 25th-anniversary models. They were called their Luxury Liners. In 1940, they were redesigned, then again during 1941 and 1942. Once the attack at Pearl Harbor occurred in 1942, Dodge’s assembly lines were shut down to focus on war production.
Dodge Motors In World War II
Some of the trucks included the VC and VF-line of 1940. Most of them were light 4×4 models, but there were a few 6×6 trucks from the WC-series as well. They even produced some gear for Russia and China as well. Chrysler Canada provided an additional 180,000 vehicles for the Commonwealth and British military.
The reputation for the WC-series proved itself to be worthy of carrying over to civilian sales once the war was over. That’s how the Power Wagon came to be. It was available during the 1946 model year with very few modifications.
Return to Production
Production started back up in 1945, just in time to release the 1946 vehicles. Selling automobiles during this time came easily considering there was a lack of new cars during the war. Starting in 1949, Dodge offered Fluid Drive combined with their “Gyro-Matic” semi-automatic transmission. This innovation reduced the need to shift but didn’t eliminate it.
During the 1940s, Dodge didn’t receive high levels of praise for their design. To change that, they brought Virgil Exner on board in 1953 as the new design chief. During the same time, they also released their very first V8 motor, known as the Red Ram Hemi.
With the smaller bodies of 1953, sales began to decline. Then, in 1954, they released a fully automatic transmission, the PowerFlite.
Towards the end of the 1950s, the company released their newest automatic transmission. It was a three-speed TorqueFlite. Both this version and the PowerFlite used push-button controls through 1965.
The 1960s Through the 1970s
Dodge released their Lancer in 1961 to get into the compact car competition. Though it didn’t become successful at first, the Dart (Lancer’s successor) became one of the best sellers when it was released in 1963.
During 1962, Chrysler opted to downsize both the Plymouth and Dodge lines of full-size vehicles. This turned out to be a bad move, and sales dropped. They quickly turned it around by offers some newer mid-size models in 1965. Among the Dodge vehicles was the Coronet and a sports car named the Dodge Charger. This car went on to become a best-seller and top car during the NASCAR races. It dominated the competition for four years and changed racing altogether with the aerodynamic design.
Throughout the late 1960s, into the beginning of the 1970s, Dodge looked to please the muscle car enthusiasts. The Charger reached a good portion of the market, as well as the Coronet R/T plus the Super Bee. In 1970, the Challenger convertibles and sports coupes came with a selection of economy engines or Hemi V8s that were ready to race.
They also worked together with Mitsubishi Motors to market the Colt subcompact vehicle. This competed with the Ford Pinto, Chevrolet Vega, and AMC Gremlin. This wouldn’t be the last time that the two companies would join forces.
The 1973 Oil Crisis
Just like with every other automaker, the oil crisis hurt Dodge’s bottom line. Their entire line was viewed as inefficient, other than the Dart with a slant-six engine and the Colt. With the lack of funds through Chrysler, it became difficult to downsize their vehicles, unlike Ford and General Motors who quickly sprung into action.
They borrowed the Chrysler Horizon to produce the Omni subcompact. They also increased their imports of the Colt and revived the Challenger. It came strictly as a hardtop sports coupe with a four-cylinder engine, instead of the fuel-guzzling V8.
In 1976, they replaced their Dart with the Aspen. In addition, the Charger and Coronet were replaced with the Diplomat, just a year later. The Aspen originally received compliments on the handling and styling, but the quality wasn’t good and the reputation for the company suffered as a result. The Monaco also stuck it out through 1977 but lost sales each year until they replaced it with the St. Regis in 1979.
In 1979, hope came from Lee Iacocca, the new chairman for Chrysler. He received some loan guarantees from the feds in order to save them from filing bankruptcy. With these loans, he focused on new models that would revitalize the brand.
The End of the Century
Chrysler produced the K-Car, which was also branded as a Dodge Aries. It featured front-wheel-drive and began the creation of an entirely new line of vehicles. That’s also when the Dodge Caravan made its grand appearance. It helped to save the automaker and created a new segment in the market: the modern minivan.
During the 1980s through the 1990s, the company focuses on the sports car division which spawned the Daytona and Lancer. Their Spirit sedan also fared well in the worldwide market. For the most part, all Mitsubishi models were ended by 1993, except the Dodge Stealth, which ran through 1996. Even though there weren’t any more production collaborations, Mitsubishi electrical components and engines continued to be used heavily by Chrysler brands.
They also released the Intrepid sedan which did well in sales. It featured a design which pushed the wheels out to the corner of the vehicles in order to create more passenger room. In 1994, the Dodge Ram pickup truck made its debut and featured some radical styling to the world of trucks. Dodge also released the Stratus and the Neon, which came with good performance and clever marketing schemes.
The Modern Era
In 1998, Chrysler merged with Daimler-Benz AG. That’s when Plymouth was removed from the automobile market. The company wanted Dodge to become a performance and low-price division.
Their first opportunity to share a platform was with the creation of the Magnum station wagon in 2005. It replaced the Intrepid and featured rear-wheel-drive plus a Hemi V8 motor. In 2007, DaimlerChrysler agreed to sell the Chrysler subsidiary, with Dodge included. Just after that, the American housing market began to collapse, and in May 2009, both GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, both on May 1st.
Just a month later, Fiat, an Italian automaker, formed a new partnership to create the Chrysler Group LLC. The government provided over $6 billion worth of loans to the company at a 21% interest rate, otherwise known as a bailout. That loan was completely paid off by 2011, five years earlier than expected. In 2014, Fiat fully merged with Chrysler to become Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, otherwise referred to as the FCA.
The first Dodge model created through the FCA was the re-introduced Dart, featuring an Alfa-Romeo design. Ram Trucks ended up becoming their own brand, while remaining under the hat of the FCA. They felt that real truck owners would appreciate the dedicated brand and the separation from the same company creating minivans.
Modern vehicles for the brand include the high-powered Charger, sporty Challenger, low-cost Journey, spacious Durango, and award-winning Grand Caravan.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
These hybrid technologies were produced as a joint effort between Chrysler, Daimler, and General Motors. In 2005, BMW also joined in the group. The technology uses two or three planetary gearsets combined with an automatic transmission. In 2006, GM ceased utilizing the technology and now refers to it as a two-mode hybrid system.
Safety and Crash Ratings
The IIHS doesn’t list any Dodge vehicles as a Top Safety Pick in 2018. All of the ratings they’ve given to the 2018 line of cars include a “Marginal” or “Poor” designation for Driver-Side Small Overlap Front. They also tend to rank low for Crash Avoidance & Mitigation, Headlights, and Child Seat Anchors.
According to the NHTSA, the 2018 Dodge Challenger and Charger both received five-stars for Overall Rating. This is contradictive of the IIHS studies. They’ve also awarded the Grand Caravan, Durango, and Journey with four stars. In the 2017 line of vehicles, the same results occurred.
Dodge Safety Equipment
Newer Dodge vehicles come with an array of safety equipment designed to keep drivers and passengers safe. The Parking Assistance reduces accidents with the help of the Parkview Rear Backup Camera and ParkSense Front and Rear Park Assist systems
The Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop uses throttle control combined with limited braking to automatically adjust the cruising speed when slower traffic is detected. This helps vehicles maintain safe distances from other cars.
The braking systems are also innovative. They have four-wheel-disc antilock brakes. This system monitors the speed of each individual wheel, allowing them to brake independently when needed. The Rain Brake Support removes excess water from the pads by using a small amount of pressure on the caliper. This occurs every time the windshield wipers are active. The Brake Assist senses impending emergency braking and adds a boost if needed. They also offer Ready Alert Braking and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.
With the Electronic Stability Control system, the vehicle monitors steering input and motion to enable better directional control. There are also Rain-Sensing Wipers which detect any moisture on the windshield so drivers don’t need to take their hands off the wheel.
Additional safety measures include All-Speed Traction Control and Electronic Roll Mitigation.
Dodge Safety Recalls
Wards Auto ranks Dodge with the Chrysler Group. They are listed as the highest recall rate by automaker, aside from Volkswagen. The good news is that only 83.2% of their recalls had the potential to cause death, injury, crash, accident, or fire. This was great considering some of the other manufacturer results. Back to more bad news – FCA only initiated 37.5% of their recalls voluntarily.
Forbes, on the other hand, placed Chrysler at #11 out of #15, which still isn’t great, but better than the previous study.
Some of their recalls have included a large number of vehicles. Take for example, the recall in 2017 regarding the Charger SRT Hellcat and Challenger SRT Hellcat. It turned out that more than a million of the vehicles might have had faulty oil cooler lines. If the connection became crimped, there could’ve been a loss of oil and potential for fire.
Again, in 2018, they were part of one of the largest recalls in history. About 4.8 million FCA vehicles were recalled to repair the cruise control. Drivers had a risk of being unable to cancel the cruise control under certain circumstances. The recall included Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, and Jeep-brand vehicles.
Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
Consumer Reports ranks Dodge as average for Customer Satisfaction. Unfortunately, they rate them fairly low on the scale of Dependability.
On the other hand, J.D. Power awarded the Dodge Challenger as the Most Reliable Midsize Sporty Car. No other Dodge vehicles made the cut.
Consumer Reports also estimated the cost of ownership during a three-year period and again at ten-years. This is based on the average price for each repair and maintenance. Dodge ranked on the lower side of both figures, with a three-year cost for repair at $115 and a ten-year average cost for work at just $495.
The company doesn’t lack in winning any awards. Here are some of their most recent accolades:
- 2018 Dodge Durango continued as Large SUV Best Buy for a sixth consecutive year from Consumer Guide.
- 2018 Dodge Charger earned an ALG Residual Value Award.
- Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP) association’s 2018 Crossover of the Year was the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT.
Dodge and International Sales
The American automaker has found itself around the world. Here are some of the other countries where Dodge can be located.
South Korea has had vehicles sold there since 2004. Their first was the Dodge Dakota. Then, in 2007, Dodge began selling vehicles in both Japan and China.
Dodge first entered Australia in 1979 with the AT4/D5N truck. Then, they re-entered the scene in 2006, with their Caliber. After that, the region had access to the Nitro, Avenger, and Journey. They didn’t release the full model lines but instead offered a 2.7-liter V6 engine. Since then, Dodge has ceased production in Australia and no longer has business in the country.
From 1969 through 1981, cars like the Dart, Magnum, LeBaron, and Charger were all produced by Dodge. All of them contained the same engine as well, a V8. Then, in 1981, they were acquired locally by Volkswagen. To distribute the Dakota, they used a Mercedes-Benz plant in Campo Largo beginning with the 1998 model year. That continued to be built there through 2001.
In 1922, Dodge assembled trucks in the U.K. Then, in 1933, they began manufacturing a British chassis. Once Chrysler took over during the 1960s, production included light commercial vehicles plus pickup trucks and vans. Spain had a plant for heavy truck production as well. In fact, the 50 series, was used mainly by the local military and utility companies.
During 1977, all assets in the country were sold to Peugeot. All the factories went to Renault instead. The Dodge name was used on some Renault trucks for a short time, but all products were discontinued not long after. Dodge didn’t return until the 1990s with the Chrysler Neon.
In 2006, a larger scale of vehicles was released to the country. This included the Journey, Nitro, Viper SRT-10, Avenger, and Caliber. Just a few years later, in 2010, they had to pull the entire lineup due to the lack of sales. Instead, the Fiat brand took over and rebadged the Journey as the Freemont.
Hyundai vehicles were branded for the company in Mexico. This included the H100, Atos, and Accent. Hyundai ended this partnership in 2014 and changed to using Fiats instead. Since 2015, the Mitsubishi Mirage has been sold to the country as the Dodge Attitude.
Snapshot of the Company
They’ve topped the Forbes Global 2000 List in spot # 128 at $35 Billion. The company has 237,000 employees and is based out of London. Other rankings with Forbes include #36 in Sales, #394 America’s Best Employers, and #21 Top Multinational Performers.
In 2017, there were 446,994 Dodge vehicles sold in the United States. That was the company’s lowest sales figures since 2010. In spite of that, the Durango had its best sales in over ten years.
FCA US LLC is the parent company of other popular automotive brands such as Jeep, Ram, Maserati, and Fiat. They also own Mopar service and parts.
In total, the company operates 27 production plants worldwide. Of those, production of Dodge-branded vehicles occurs in four locations. In the United States, the Jefferson North Assembly plant is located in Detroit, Michigan. Aside from that, two of the other plants in Canada reside in Brampton, Ontario, and Windsor, Ontario. Toluca, Mexico houses the additional production plant.
The original logo featured a circle and two Greek deltas that represented a letter “D.” It formed a star with six points in the middle and featured “Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicles.” Many people believed that the brothers were Jewish because it looked like the Star of David, but it turned out they were Methodists. The star was prominent through 1939.
Beginning in 1940, they applied a ram that was leaping as the hood ornament. By, 1951, it became just the head. They stopped using that on vehicles starting in 1951.
They also implemented a crest in 1941. It featured four bars in a horizontal fashion that were broken by a vertical bar. There was an “O” right in the center of the design and the head of a knight at the top. The head ceased being a part of the logo in 1955, but the emblem continued until 1957.
Starting in 1955, they used the Forward Look logo. It has overlapping boomerang shapes that suggested rocket-propelled movement and continued through 1962.
From 1962 until 1981, they used a broken deltoid design that had three arrowhead-type shapes. Then, in 1982, they released the Pentastar logo, used until 1995.
The company is well-known for the numerous slogans over the years. Some of the most popular include:
- Dependability, The Dependables. (1920s–1967)
- An American revolution. (1982–1989)
- Grab life by the horns. (2001–2007) – this was used mostly for the trucks
- Born Dodge. (2014–present)
The company is also known for its extensive list of exceptional ads. In 2004, they released one with two men standing at urinals in the bathroom. They go on to remark about how “it looks great” and “it’s additional seven inches.” Whether people appreciated the implications or not, it did a good job of catching consumer attention.
In 2018, Alice Cooper began staring in Dodge commercials. Using bigger stars has been successful for the company, including the 2011 Super Bowl commercial which featured Eminem.
Aside from that, Dodge muscle cars have been featured in numerous movies throughout the years. Some of these include The Fast and the Furious (2001), Death Proof (2007), Blues Brothers (1980), and on the TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard.
Furthermore, they sponsor numerous sporting activities, including:
- Challenged Athletes Foundation
- Global Rallycross Championship
- Hart & Huntington
- Red Bull Signature Series
- Travis Pastrana
They’ve been a part of NHRA drag racing since 1950, its first year. They became the leading competitor because of their Hemi engine. Their rear-engine design was pivotal for drag strip racers.
Not only has the company designed and manufactured many world famous NASCAR vehicles, but they’ve also been a top competitor for decades. There are even dedicated Dodge motorsports facilities for the events.
There have been three wins by the Dodge Viper GTS V10 at the famous Le Mans 24-hour endurance races. These occurred from 1998 through 2000.
The company also participated in many other motorsports events such as the Dodge Viper Cup, Formula DRIFT, and TORC off-road truck racing.
There are many places throughout the world to see a Dodge vehicle, but one of the more popular options was at The Walter P. Chrysler Museum. It was a car museum that had been located in Auburn Hills, Michigan. While they were open, they featured historically significant vehicles produced by Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth, AMC, Hudson, Nash, and Rambler. The museum operated from 1999 through 2012 and re-opened for a short time during 2016.
It sat on 10 acres just southeast of the headquarters and featured three levels of exhibits. In total, there was around 55,000 square feet of space. They had 65 vehicles on display plus interactive areas as well.
Since then, the museum became an office space and the vehicles are given for display at special events. Maserati and Alfa Romeo now share the space.
When looking at a Dodge for lease or a Dodge on sale, many people turn to financial services to aid in the purchase. Even when consumers need a Dodge pre-owned certified vehicle, it makes sense to consider the help of Dodge Finance services. All of these run through Chrysler Capital, which is based in Dallas, Texas.
Not only do they supply consumers with numerous financing options, but there are also some end-of-lease plans worth considering. They also offer affiliate rewards for employees of any partner company. This allows for an additional 1% below dealer invoice plus current incentives. The Military Bonus Cash takes up to $500 off for active members and veterans. In addition, those with a disability are eligible to receive up to $1000 back to reduce the cost of installing adaptive driver or passenger equipment on the vehicle.
All Dodge vehicles come with a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty. They also offer a 5-year-/60,000 mile Roadside Assistance plan. This includes fuel delivery, battery jumpstart, towing, and flat tire service. Additional warranties for parts and accessories are handled through Mopar.
J.D. Power also keeps a list of the best dealerships in the country. Currently, there are two listed in Massachusetts. They include Herb Chambers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram FIAT of Danvers and Herb Chambers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram FIAT of Millbury. The only other one on the list is Terry Henricks Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram from Archbold, Ohio.
Mopar also offers numerous coupons for service at a Dodge dealer. There’s also an FCA DrivePlus Mastercard for customers. Not only is there no annual fee, but it also allows purchasers to receive rewards on select items. They even offer a $100 statement credit on the first FCA US purchase. Then, the rewards are available for vehicle maintenance, tire rotations, oil changes, accessories, and toward the next vehicle purchase.
6 Interesting Facts about Dodge
1 – The company made stoves. Once they closed their bicycle shop, they began producing mechanical parts for stoves.
2 – Dodge created the first all-steel body vehicle in 1914. Within two years, they built 70,000 of them.
3 – The Power Wagon was the first four-wheel-drive truck from the company. It became successful for both military and civilian usage and eventually became the prototype for the Ram.
4 – Prior to manufacturing cars, more than 22,000 investors asked the brothers to open a dealership.
5 – Lamborghini designed the first engine used by Dodge.
6 – Texas received a special edition Coronet. It featured its own badges and was more luxurious than the base model.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are Dodges Made? There are over 25 production plants worldwide, but American manufacturing occurs in the Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit, Michigan.
IS Dodge GM? No Dodge is part of the FCA brand. They are the owners of Chrysler, Jeep, Fiat, Alfa-Romeo, Ram and Jeep. On the other hand, GM owns GMC, Cadillac, Buick, and Chevrolet which has been a long-time competitor of the brand.
Does Dodge Own Ram? Not anymore. Ram Trucks are an American truck brand which began in 2010 as its own division of the FCA US LLC. It had been a part of the dodge marque but later split in order to appeal to more truck buyers.
Are Dodges Good Cars? According to top sites such as Consumer Reports, they tend to feature below-average reliability and dependability. The only vehicle that has done better in recent years is the Grand Caravan with average scores.
Does Dodge Still Make the Viper? The Dodge Viper was one of the brand’s sports cars and it remained in production from 1991 through 2017 with a short break between 2010 and 2013. Fiat closed the Detroit Viper factory after the 2017 model year.
Is Dodge Mopar? Mopar supplies service, parts, and customer care for all of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Their name stands for a mixture between “Motor” and “Parts.”