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Dodge momentum continues

No longer a new player in the truck market, the Dodge brand of Chrysler LLC has realized success in a short period of time.

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No longer a new player in the truck market, the Dodge brand of Chrysler LLC has realized success in a short period of time. In fact, since its return to the commercial truck market in 2003, Dodge has introduced six all-new vehicles and now offers a full line of Class 2 to 5 models, including the Dodge Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs, the Dodge Sprinter full-size van and the Dodge Grand Caravan cargo van.

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For Dodge, according to company spokesperson, Randy Jones, communications manager – commercial vehicles, the commercial market is a great example of how the company is capitalizing on opportunities by investing in new products that cover new segments. “Our commercial trucks are not ‘me too’ products,” he added. “We now offer customers choices.”

Dodge’s first success in the commercial market was the 2003 introduction of the Dodge Sprinter. Beyond its appeal to a wide range of customers in traditional and niche vocations, the Sprinter has quickly become a preferred vehicle for major courier companies including FedEx, UPS and DHL.

Dodge went on to follow its success with the Sprinter with the all-new Ram 3500 Chassis Cab, which quickly achieved a 29% market share in less than one year. The OEM then extended its reach into the Class 4 and 5 medium-duty market with the 2007 Ram 4500 and 5500 Chassis Cabs and has achieved a 16% share of the Class 4 and 5 retail market in less than one year.

During the first half of 2008, Jones reported, Dodge led all other Class 3 to 5 truck manufacturers with growth of 132% compared to the same six-month period in 2007. In total, through the first six months of 2008, Dodge increased its retail market share to 21% in Class 3 to 5 segments, selling 20,177 commercial vehicles, a 123% increase over the same period in 2007. It’s now the fourth largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles sold in the U.S.

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Jones also attributes the company’s success to offerings such as its new national dealer program. Designed for its Fleet and Fleet Management Co. (FMC) accounts and customers, Fleet Elite is a dealership certification program that identifies dealers that provide enhanced service and support with specialized facilities, staffing and processes. Fleet Elite dealers are selected based on their volume of courtesy deliveries and “fleet-friendly” practices and expertise, and by demonstrating a focus on treating and retaining fleet customers as they would a retail customer.

Another initiative is Dodge BusinessLink. Launched in 1999 and offering no-cost enrollment, the full-service commercial program is comprised of a select network of Dodge dealers who know and understand the unique vehicle needs of small businesses, fleet managers and other commercial vehicle customers. The program’s exclusive benefits include dealers with dedicated commercial account managers and sales teams, inventories with a higher mix of work truck and other commercial vehicles, next-bay service and technicians, extended hours to minimize downtime, and free loaner vehicles.

“While continuing to conquer new territory and set new commercial standards, the commercial vehicle market remains a white-space opportunity for the Dodge brand,” said Mike Accavitti, director – Dodge Brand Marketing. “Dodge will continue to fill this space with capable commercial-grade vehicles that deliver maximum uptime, dependability, capability, safety and increased savings. We are also continuing to provide product enhancements and upgrades while working to better serve our business and fleet customers’ specialized needs.”

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