In a programme entitled Chrysler Group On The Move, the manufacturer is holding 30 regional events for its retailers over the next six weeks. “We’ll be talking to every dealer to best explain what their part in our growth is and what their part in our future is,” says Elliott.
“We had our dealer conference in February, and our dealers responded very positively about the product offering from Dodge. They’re up for a significant amount of growth over the next three years.” His target is to almost double sales to 30,000 units by 2007, a third from Dodge.
Retailers are required to complete the latest Chrysler corporate identity update by the end of this year, which includes changing the signage background from the current blue to a grey. The low-cost modular system will then allow them to slot in a Dodge logo when the brand is introduced in UK showrooms in May 2006.
However, for Elliott, the priority is ensuring the dealers are trained and profitable. He says: “We’re telling them the implementation of Dodge is not the most important thing. We need to realise that we have growth potential in Chrysler and Jeep, not just in Dodge.”
The Dodge brand is a compulsory addition for all Chrysler and Jeep dealers, which when announced last year sparked fears that some in the network would pull out of the franchise.
According to Elliott, these concerns have been overcome. He now has 86 dealers, and says an optimum network would have about 10 more. “As far as I’m concerned we’re very happy with the make-up of the network. We don’t now expect any dealers to say they don’t want Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge.”
Right-hand-drive versions of the Chrysler 300C luxury saloon are due to be introduced to the UK later this year, followed by Touring variants and a high-performance SRT-8 model in early 2006. Dodge’s offerings will include a C-segment hatchback based on its Caliber concept.