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Challenger to Dodge Australian call-up

Only in America: Challenger will not be sold outside the US.

Hopes of a Dodge V8 muscle car heading the local line-up have been dashed

22 Aug 2007

PLANS to bring a Dodge muscle car hero to Australia have stalled.

Chrysler Australia had hoped to position the new Challenger coupe as its halo car, creating awareness in much the same way as the bold 300C has done.

It was even thinking of calling the two-door performance car the Charger, tapping a rich vein of nostalgia associated with the Australian-made Valiant coupe that dueled with Holden Monaros and Ford GT Falcons in the 1970s.

Those plans have been shelved as it has been revealed the Challenger will only be produced in small numbers and only for the United States.

Chrysler Australia managing director Gerry Jenkins told GoAuto that the Challenger’s short production run limited the chance of it making it into export markets.

“50,000 (production) was what I had heard,” he said.

“That is a drop in the ocean.” Mr Jenkins said the Chrysler plan was to limit the production and therefore sell those cars at a reasonable premium.

41 center imageChrysler’s international product senior manager Kevin Tourneur told GoAuto there was no plan to offer the Challenger to Australia or other countries outside the United States.

“The Challenger right now is only LHD and is not being planned for any international market,” he said.

“It is going to be built in a very limited volume.” Mr Tourneur said that while the car has not been engineered for right-hand-drive, that could happen at some stage in the future.

“It is primarily for the US market, but it is the same as the others, we launch something and if a market says they really need that car, who knows what happens in the future? It does make it harder, but it doesn’t mean it is impossible.” GoAuto understands Chrysler management in Detroit doesn’t feel there would be enough volume of a premium coupe such as the Challenger to justify development of a right-hand-drive model.

Chrysler Australia has also given up hope of securing the Dodge version of the 300C, which is called the Charger in the United States, in the short term.

The four-door Charger is based on the same platform as the 300C and has aggressive styling that has been passed on to the Avenger mid-sized car which has just gone on sale here.

The best chance of the Charger coming to Australia will come when production of left-hand-drive export models is shifted from Austria to North America in 2010.

With many more cars coming out of the one plant, Chrysler Australia believes it would be easier to justify a right-hand-drive version of the big Dodge.

Chrysler Australia is keen to have a performance car to boost the image of Dodge, which is positioned as a masculine brand.

At this stage, the most powerful Dodge model is the V6 Nitro SUV with 151kW.

Another vehicle that sits at the top of the Dodge wish list for Australia is the Ram pick-up.

At this stage, the vehicle is not engineered for right-hand-drive and there are no plans to do so.

Mr Jenkins estimates Dodge could sell around 3000 Rams a year in Australia now that the Ford F-Series is no longer available. That number, while impressive, is not enough to justify a right-hand-drive program.

“We did a study about it 3 or 4 years ago and the number was 10,000. We are very far from that,” Mr Jenkins said.

Even so, there is a chance the Ram could eventually be produced in right-hand-drive according to Tourneur.

“What has been interesting with the relaunch of Dodge is that there seems to be more and more interest in Ram, not just here, but in some other European-type markets and that is something that is new,” he said.

“That is something that we will take a look at.”

Read more:

Dodge's reborn Challenger is go!

First look: Dodge has a new Challenger


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