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Dodge, formally the Dodge Division of Chrysler Group LLC, is a brand of automobiles, minivans, and sport utility vehicles manufactured by 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.
Founded as the Dodge Brothers Company by brothers Horace Elgin Dodge and John Francis Dodge in 1900, Dodge was originally a supplier of parts and assemblies for Detroit-based automakers and began building complete automobiles in 1915, 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. 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 1998ĘC2009, including its short-lived merger with Daimler-Benz AG from 1998ĘC2007, 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 Ram will be a manufacturer.
On June 10, 2009, Italian automaker Fiat formed a partnership with Chrysler under Sergio Marchionne, with the UAW, and the US Government to form Chrysler Group LLC, of which Dodge and Jeep remained fully integrated. For it's part, the US Government provided more than $6 billion in loans at 21%, called a "bridge loan" or "bailout". The newly formed company went on to fully repay that loan, remortgaging to reduce the interest rate several times down to 6%. They fully paid back the loan with interest to the US Government on May 24th 2011, a full 5 years early. The UAW, being partners throughout the process, were paid well and above $3.9 billion in 2013 as Sergio's plan for full consolidation has continued on schedule. This has allowed Chrysler LLC to fully merge with Fiat to form FCA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2014.
The results of this merger have been nothing short of spectacular. Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep all have rode an unprecedented sales wave of 50 consecutive months of growth, starting with the launch of its flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee. It became the most awarded SUV - ever. In 2012, however, the Dodge Caravan was consolidated to the performance portion sold going forward as the Chrysler Town & Country. For 2013, Dodge re-introduced a compact car based on an Alfa-Romeo design. Sold under the revived Dart name, the car received favorable reviews from the automotive press. An all new 9 speed, fully capable Jeep Cherokee was introduced in 2013. Though some felt the design to radical, the buyers appreciated the distinction of a full American look, with refined manners, but serious off road capability. The biggest launch for the company has come in 2014, where FCA will launch its first official car : a brand new 200. A vehicle whose high quality and new luxury will compete in the heavy weight "mid size" domestic market. Initial reviews from the 3 major publications, Car & Driver, Motor Trend and JD powers, believe it will take significant margin from competitors (Accord, Focus, etc). This marks the close of the beginning of the story of FCA, whose plans for Jeep and Dodge are to have them remain flagships in the industry.