Dodge's new heavy-duty pickups, the 2500 and 3500, are the brand's hottest vehicles, and last year's light-duty Ram 1500 still is selling well. But dealers worry that Dodge has neglected cars for more than a decade.
Dealers want a small sport-utility, a large sport-utility and heavy-duty trucks. But they continue to clamor for cars, especially in the lower end to compete with entry-level Korean and Japanese makes.
They're encouraged by corporate plans to move Dodge further from Chrysler by making it the sporty and affordable brand.
Although the relationship between the Chrysler group and dealers has improved since late 2000 when a series of cutbacks in dealer payments were made, several issues still are brewing. The most important is how company payments are made to the Dealer Advertising Association, said New Mexico dealer Ken Zangara, who is head of the Dodge Dealer Council.
Dealer anxiety over the merger with Daimler-Benz has died, and confidence in the German management team is high - primarily because of products in the pipeline, Zangara said.
Zangara spoke with Staff Reporter Diana T. Kurylko about the outlook for Dodge and dealer issues.