DETROIT — Dodge will begin calling some dealerships "Power Brokers," a designation indicating that a store's sales, service and parts operations meet the brand's standard for customer service and that it has staffers with comprehensive knowledge of vehicle features, performance parts and installation.
Building a network of certified retailers and resurrecting its Direct Connection performance parts brand are among the first steps in a two-year business plan Dodge began rolling out last week. The brand says it will release at least one new step of the plan, which it's calling "Never Lift," every three months.
"Some will be minor, but there will be a few that will be game-changers," Dodge brand CEO Tim Kuniskis said in an online video, "so we're going to give you a calendar, and we're going to tell you the time frames, but we're not going to tell you which ones are major and which ones are minor."
The steady rollout of news comes as Dodge, known for its roaring internal combustion engines, begins to transition to electrification. Dodge is expected to launch a plug-in hybrid model in 2022 and a battery-electric muscle car in 2024. The high-octane brand also will show an electric concept next year.
The first Never Lift dispatch didn't touch on EVs. It was centered on the customer experience at dealerships, product giveaways and the search for a brand ambassador.
The start of the two-year plan comes with Dodge's U.S. sales down 14 percent this year through September, though sales of its three remaining nameplates — the Challenger, Charger and Durango — are up 15 percent. The Grand Caravan and Journey are now out of production.
Salespeople at Power Brokers stores, Dodge said, "will have the knowledge to walk customers through Dodge vehicle performance features and available performance upgrades." The brand said consumers will be able to "purchase a vehicle with upgrades directly from a Power Brokers dealership, with the added benefit of maintaining the balance of the factory vehicle warranty when parts are installed by a Dodge Power Brokers dealer."
These dealerships will also host performance clinics for enthusiasts and maintain a full lineup of Dodge performance models available for customer test drives.
The Power Brokers program will begin Dec. 15.
Dodge said its Direct Connection parts brand is returning as the exclusive source of factory-backed parts and official technical information.
The Direct Connection brand launched in 1974 and was folded into the Mopar umbrella during the 1980s. "It stood for giving enthusiasts the best possible support straight from the factory with parts, technical advice, guides and manuals that serve as how-to bibles of high performance," Kuniskis said.
Modern performance kits will be available through Direct Connection to upgrade the engine, suspension and driveline of the current Dodge Challenger. It will also provide "race-ready parts" for the Challenger Mopar Drag Pak, including engines, transmissions and a body-in-white that Dodge says will allow racers to build their own Drag Pak.
"These are the factory performance parts that you've been asking for, like Hellcat and Red Eye stage kits, tuned and updated with a Direct Connection PCM tuning module," Kuniskis said. "These kits are emissions compliant, and they won't violate your factory warranty."
Direct Connection resources for muscle car enthusiasts and racers will include a performance parts website, technical information telephone hotline and parts catalog.
The brand said Power Brokers stores will be exclusive hubs where consumers can get Direct Connection parts. The Direct Connection program begins its rollout Dec. 15.
Dodge also said it will give away 25 vehicles during an eight-week event called Operation 25/8 that will enlist superstars from the sports, music and automotive arenas. The name is meant to suggest that the brand goes beyond 24/7.
Each of the 25 celebrities involved will offer muscle car enthusiasts a chance at a new Dodge of their choosing. Amazon also will take part in the giveaway.