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Dodge Doubles Down on Muscle Car Focus for Dealers

Dodge wants enthusiasts to sell performance parts, and it's planning on a program to educate its dealers.
Victoria Scott

Frequently dealerships make news for frustrating their customer base with absurd markups or excruciating indifference. Now, Dodge is focused on fixing a less-discussed part of the car-buying experience: unknowledgeable salespeople. In an interview with Automotive News, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis revealed he wants its Power Broker dealers—the ones who are authorized to sell warranty-maintaining high-performance SRT parts—to be staffed with enthusiasts to sell cars.

Currently, Dodge has 100 dealers across 34 states that are listed as Power Brokers, selected based on how well they sold high-performance variants of Dodge models such as the Challenger Super Stock and Charger Hellcat. All these dealers have to take intensive product-specific training to continue offering the Direct Connection line of performance parts. According to one high-performance-oriented Dodge salesman who is part of the program, the training partly consisted of a 200-question quiz that required a 90% correct answer rate to pass. Kuniskis notes that despite the intensive training for salespeople, the dealers themselves won’t physically change. “If I say to the dealer, ‘You’ve got to have this piece of carpet on the floor, you’ve got to have that sign on the wall, that sign up there,’ and all of a sudden it doesn’t feel like the program’s adding value, guess whose fault it is? It’s mine.” Kuniskis said.

It’s an interesting departure from other automaker strategies in a time of increasing electrification. Ford recently spun off its electric vehicles into an entirely separate company segment, and Honda is currently preparing dealers for massive makeovers to help transition to higher sales of EVs. Although Dodge does have an electric muscle car in the works and will be ending sales of some of its most powerful V8 powerplants within the next two years, Kuniskis made no mention of plans for electrification within the dealer training. For now, Dodge is still doubling-down on ICE powerplants with absurd power numbers, even as their sunset draws near.

Dodge’s strategy is consistent with its overall marketing and vibe. Most of its advertising focuses on burnouts—even for its electric-car teasers—and this bad-boy persona is solidly part of the brand’s core (the company has a Chief Donut Maker position, after all). And despite the fact its three-model lineup starts at an average MSRP of $33,440, Dodge’s average sales price is north of $48,000, according to Edmunds, so clearly, buyers are willing to shell out for more power. So, for those who need more power than a base Hellcat, you’ll be able to expect a dealer who’s just as excited about your tire-shredding Charger as you are.