Dodge is an American brand of cars, minivans, and sport utility vehicles manufactured by FCA US LLC (formerly known as Chrysler Group LLC), based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Dodge vehicles presently include the lower-priced badge variants ofChrysler-badged vehicles as well as performance cars, though for much of its existence Dodge was Chrysler's mid-priced brand above Plymouth.
Founded as the Dodge Brothers Company machine shop by brothers Horace Elgin Dodge and John Francis Dodge in late-1900. Dodge was originally a supplier of parts and assemblies for Detroit-based automakers and began building complete automobiles under the "Dodge Brothers" brand in 1914, predating the founding of Chrysler Corporation. The Dodge brothers died suddenly in 1920 and the company was sold to Dillon, Read & Co. in 1925 before being sold to Chrysler in 1928. Dodge vehicles mainly consisted of trucks and full-sized passenger cars through the 1970s, though it did make some inroads into the compact car market during this time.
Due to various market conditions, Dodge's first financial crisis, as a division of Chrysler, was averted in 1955, when Prudential gave them US$250 million; combined with the all new styling approach ushered in by Virgil Exner, Chrysler recovered and sales increased.
The 1973 oil crisis and its subsequent impact on the American automobile industry led Chrysler to develop the K platform of compact to midsize cars for the 1981 model year. The K platform and its derivatives are credited with reviving Chrysler's business in the 1980s; one such derivative became the Dodge Caravan.
The Dodge brand has withstood the multiple ownership changes at Chrysler from 1998 to 2009, including its short-lived merger with Daimler-Benz AG from 1998 to 2007, its subsequent sale to Cerberus Capital Management, its 2009 bailout by the United States government, and its subsequent Chapter 11 bankruptcy and acquisition by Fiat.
In 2011, Dodge, Ram, and Dodge's Viper were separated. Dodge said that the Dodge Viper will now be an SRT product and Ramwill be a manufacturer. In 2014, SRT was merged back into Dodge. Later that year, Chrysler Group was renamed FCA US LLC, corresponding with the merger of Fiat S.p.A. and Chrysler Group into the single corporate structure of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Founding and early years Edit
After the founding of the Dodge Brothers Company by Horace and John Dodge in 1900, the Detroit-based company quickly found work producing precision engine and chassis components for the city’s growing number of automobile firms. Chief among these customers were the established Olds Motor Vehicle Company and the then-new Ford Motor Company.
By 1914, Horace had created the new four-cylinder Dodge Model 30.
Marketed as a slightly more upscale competitor to the ubiquitous Ford Model T, it pioneered or made standard many features later taken for granted: all-steel body construction (the vast majority of cars worldwide still used wood-framing under steel panels, though Stoneleigh and BSA used steel bodies as early as 1911); 12-volt electrical system (6-volt systems would remain the norm until the 1950s); 35 horsepower (versus the Model T's 20), and sliding-gear transmission(the best-selling Model T would retain an antiquated planetary design until its demise in 1927). As a result of this, and the brothers' well-earned reputation for the highest quality truck, transmission and motor parts they made for other successful vehicles, Dodge Brothers cars were ranked at second place for U.S. sales as early as 1916. That same year, Henry Ford decided to stop paying stock dividends to finance the construction of his new River Rouge complex. This led the Dodges to file suit to protect their annual stock earnings of approximately one million dollars, leading Ford to buy out his shareholders; the Dodges were paid some US$25 million.
Also in 1916, the Dodge Brothers' vehicles won acclaim for durability while in service with the U.S. Army's Pancho Villa Expedition intoMexico. One notable instance was in May when the 6th Infantry received a reported sighting of Julio Cárdenas, one of Villa's most trusted subordinates. Lt. George S. Patton led ten soldiers and two civilian guides in three Dodge Model 30 touring cars to conduct a raid at a ranch house in San Miguelito, Sonora. During the ensuing firefight the party killed three men, of whom one was identified as Cárdenas. Patton's men tied the bodies to the hoods of the Dodges, returning to headquarters in Dublán and an excited reception from US newspapermen.