After climbing to a five-year full of 2013, sales at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Dodge brand fell 4 percent in twelve months 2014 and a further 10 % in 2015.
So when TTAC columnist Bark M. tweeted a Dodge marketing tag line – “Fastest Growing American Performance Brand” — my confusion, doubt and skepticism had been kindled.
Bark heard the tagline in a radio advert, which unfortunately isn’t Googleable. Nevertheless, he?swiftly provided a link to this 2016 Avoid brochure in which the subsequent claim is made: “The Avoid brand may have started from humble origins, but it is now the fastest-growing overall performance brand.*“
Seriously? Let’s look?into it.
After a dozen or so emails and one phone call with FCA’s public relations department, we found a few answers – not one of which are wholly satisfying.
The brochure’s disclaimer is actually exceptionally brief. “Data is calculated using the newest available year-over-year (YOY) retail vehicle registrations.” The most recent?
In our conversations along with FCA, the figures cited?were from January 2015 and the year-over-year comparison with January 2014. Though the declare was sufficiently present when the brochure was initially created for model year 2016 vehicles, FCA spokesperson Eileen Wunderlich states the company is “looking in to editing the online form of the brochure.”
Yet even if the claim applied to a more recent period of time — the first four months associated with 2016, for example – questions would still remain. Since when is Dodge, a brand in which Fifty seven percent of its product sales are derived from?minivans and crossovers, a performance brand? And when Dodge is a performance brand, what other car manufacturers fall under this illustrious, enthusiast-pleasing banner?
Dodge sets up the correlation out of the gate?by printing?”the Dodge brand” and?”performance brand” in the same phrase, thus causing the readers to?assume FCA’s advertising material refers?towards the entire Dodge brand as a performance brand. Remember, Dodge’s selection?includes a seven-pronged line of vehicles:?the Grand Caravan minivan, Durango as well as Journey crossovers, Challenger coupe, Viper sports car, and Dart as well as Charger sedans.
Indeed, the actual brochure continues to?give credence to this presumption. “It’s the brand that boasts both style and energy, and never makes you choose between the two.” Never?
“With more than 100 years under their belt, each of the seven automobiles in the 2016 Dodge lineup pays homage to the iconic bloodline with award-winning functions and superior craftsmanship.” Each of the 7 vehicles?
It doesn’t sound as though Dodge is referring to a specific part, but according to Wunderlich, which was the intention. “The claim was made based on the overall performance trim levels of Dodge versus the performance cut levels of competing manufacturers,” Wunderlich says.
Dodge is not short on beastly overall performance, what with the Viper and 707-horsepower versions of the Challenger and Charger, not to mention SRTs as well as R/T Scat Packs. But when all of us hear “performance brand,Inch we neither hear nor expect to listen to “performance trim levels.” Consumers can’t be expected to read between the outlines to such a degree, particularly when the disclaimer is so?terse.
As with regard to competing manufacturers, we are still unsure?exactly what qualifies a “performance brand” within Dodge marketing parlance.?FCA declined to share with TTAC the January 2015 year-over-year sales data compiled in order for Dodge to create this ambiguous declare.?Are we talking about AMGs as well as Ms? Non-SUV Porsches, or just the S-badged Porsches? What about the Kia Focus ST and Fiesta ST? Does the Mustang GT qualify? Even at Dodge, is a Charger R/T stylish enough to be a Avoid performance vehicle, or does it need the Scat Pack or upgraded SRT engine?
Truthfully, Dodge sales are growing, but 10 contending brands are growing quicker. Through the first-third of 2016, brand-wide quantity is up 9 percent, year-over-year, an increase of nearly 16,000 sales. Increases, however, aren’t made by Dodge’s performance-oriented vehicles. At this point in?2015, a plant shut down at FCA’s minivan factory within Windsor, Ontario, caused minivan product sales to plummet. Thus, in early 2016, sales from the Grand Caravan more than doubled, growing by 23,871 units to 46,915 sales through the finish of April. Meanwhile, Dodge Durango volume is up 30 percent, a jump of 6,002 sales in order to 26,019.
Dodge’s cars? The actual Challenger, Charger, Dart, Viper, and defunct Avenger combined for a 14-percent decline in early 2016, a loss of almost 13,000 product sales.
If FCA wants to make proven claims about the fastest-growing auto brands in America, they certainly have a case to create – just not along with Dodge. Jeep product sales are up 17 % so far this year because of the addition of the Renegade, continued growth from the Compass/Patriot, and improving Great Cherokee volume.
With a 17-percent year-over-year sales improvement, Jeep is the fastest-growing auto brand in the usa.*
* Fastest-growing volume brand. Discontinued Scion is up 53 percent. Volvo, with only 0.4-percent of the market, expires 23 percent. Spelling out the conditions of the claim isn’t so desperately?after all.
[Image Source: FCA]