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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.”


Chrysler’s Gilles Drops Hints About Viper Revival

Starting to “feel like Santa’s workshop,” says design chief.

by on Feb.12, 2010

Chrysler Division boss and corporate chief designer Ralph Gilles says lots more products are coming.

Is the snake slithering its way back into the Dodge line-up?  Apparently so, according to some less than subtle hints by Ralph Gilles, Chrysler’s executive vice president, during a speech to the Chicago Economic Club.

Gilles, who does double-duty as both design chief and director of the Chrysler division, was a last-minute substitute for planned speaker Sergio Marchionne.  The Chrysler CEO wound up in Russia, however, signing a multi-billion dollar deal that will allow the maker and its Italian partner, Fiat, produce an assortment of products for the booming market.

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For Viper fans, the switch in speakers could be seen as fortuitous, as Gilles confirmed the U.S. maker is definitely working on an all-new version of the Viper, a halo car for the Dodge division and Chrysler, in general.  He did not provide many details, however, so that leaves aficionados to guess when the sports car will return and precisely which Fiat Group product it will be based on.  Most “insiders” are hinting the revived Viper could be back in the line-up by 2012 or ’13, about the same time a flood of other new Chrysler and Fiat-based products debut.