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Carrying the Torch: Dodge Seeks its own Identity

“The challenge is getting the word out.”

by on Feb.11, 2011

Ralph Gilles serves dual roles as Chrysler's corporate design chief - and as head of the Dodge brand.

Chrysler is in the midst of a major turnaround – or so it hopes — and of the company’s five marques, perhaps Dodge, which has been repositioned the mainstream performance brand, is the biggest torch-carrier for the company.

A lot of the credit for that arguably goes to Ralph Gilles, the president and CEO of the brand – as well as the head of design for Chrysler itself.

The youthful Gilles, who favors designer jeans and casual button-down shirts, rather than the suit-and-tie uniform, resonates with the media and enthusiasts precisely because he comes across as a car guy and not a stuffed shirt.

Now he needs to get his brand to have the same favorable image with a skeptical public.  And no one knows that better than Gilles himself.

“We need to re-open a discussion with America,” Gilles said. “Get our own identity.”


Dodge Puts the R/T into New Focus

Muscle car badge won’t be “abused” anymore, promises Gilles.

by on Feb.10, 2011

The new Dodge Durano R/T makes its Windy City debut.

Dodge is bringing back the R/T designation.  Well, sort of. After all, it’s not like the R/T trim ever really went away. The 2010 Dodge Charger, for example, was available in R/T guise.

But Dodge president and CEO Ralph Gilles admitted that the R/T name—which stands for road and track—was “abused” in the past by being slapped onto too many cars not deserving of the moniker.

Cognizant of that fact, Dodge has tried to make sure that the five new R/T models it showed at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show live up to the name.

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For starters, there is the 2011 Dodge Challenger R/T which, like last year’s model, holds the middle spot in that model’s lineup. Its 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 carries over from last year, but the car receives styling tweaks to go along with minor upgrades to the suspension and interior.