Dodge is an American brand of automobiles, 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 of Chrysler-badged vehicles as well as performance cars, though for much of its existence Dodge was Chrysler’s mid-priced brand above Plymouth.
History of Dodge
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.
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. 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 Caravan.
The brand has withstood the multiple ownership changes at Chrysler from 1998–2009, including its short-lived merger with Daimler-Benz AG from 1998–2007, 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.