LOS ANGELES -- Dodge's 100th anniversary next year presents a convenient marketing opportunity -- a chance to regain some of the luster and direction that was lost when the Ram pickup and Viper were shifted to other Chrysler Group brands.
Dodge is planning special limited-edition models across its seven-vehicle lineup in 2014, but Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis said he won't reveal details until the vehicles are ready to be launched.
"We're not talking to anybody until we actually do something," he said. "Until we actually do it, it's just words."
Kuniskis, who took over as head of Dodge in April, plans to use brothers John and Horace Dodge, who founded the company, to position Dodge as "something different," focusing on power and technology.
And even though the anniversary is still a year away, Dodge has made its first move in that direction. The 2.4-liter Tigershark 4-cylinder will be the standard engine on all but the base-model Dodge Dart, replacing the 2.0-liter I-4.
As an example of keeping Dodge different, Kuniskis cited the Charger, with its distinctive styling and racetrack-style LED rear lighting.
"On a spreadsheet, the Dodge Charger is the same full-sized four-door sedan as a Toyota Avalon, as a Ford Taurus, as a Chevy Impala," he said. "Psychologically, it's not even in the same ballpark as those cars."
The Dodge brothers were skilled machinists, bicycle makers and inventors who grew rich making parts for several automotive pioneers, including Ransom E. Olds and Henry Ford.
They had parlayed an early 10 percent stake in Ford Motor Co. into a small fortune but later formed their own car company. On Nov. 14, 1914, the first Dodge car -- a five-seat touring sedan later nicknamed "Old Betsy" -- rolled off their assembly line in metro Detroit.