New Dodges, unabashed plant speculation, and the RU crossover

Months ago, Automotive News published an article noting that analysts thought the Belvidere (Illinois) plant, currently home of the Cherokee, would switch to making the company’s forthcoming BEVs around 2023, and that Brampton (Ontario) would lose its large-car monopoly and possibly be converted to making batteries.

The article worried (and still worries) people working at Brampton, as one might expect, but it also concerns Windsor workers, who expected to get an RU-coded minivan-based crossover—which appears to have been cancelled.

Brampton - final Dodge Demon

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While nothing has been stated officially by the company, more insiders have come forward to say that they believe the Belvidere rumors are true. Several people have told us that they news from within Stellantis that Belvidere will get the first new battery-electric Dodges as well as the new Chrysler Airflow, which as stated was production-intent (the name and other details might or might not change).

While we have no word of what will happen to the Cherokee, it could be made in Windsor—a flexible plant—which would help fill the plant’s capacity through the end of the current Pacifica’s run. After that, the crystal ball is fuzzy, but as one ex-Chrysler person said, it’s hard to believe they would let Windsor go silent; they’ll need the production capacity, for one thing. Windsor and Brampton are both known for the quality of their workforce, as well.

The current plan for new Dodges is, as one would expect, a little unclear. A new LB-coded Dodge Challenger is strongly supported, using the turbo six engines, at about the same time that new BEV Dodge cars are due. One possibility is that they will do a Ford and have a gasoline and battery car, using different platforms and form factors, under the same name (we’re talking Mustang and Mustang Mach-E, though F-150 and F-150 Lightning would also count). Thus, they could do a traditional Charger and Challenger in Brampton from 2024 on, using smaller turbocharged engines putting out power comparable to all but the Hellcats, while making Hellcat-beating BEVs in Belvidere. That would help Dodge to reach the current “I will never buy an electric car” crowd without losing the “cutting edge” crowd.

Dodge Charger BEV AWD Burnout

The 300 is unlikely to continue as a sedan, because of its atrocious 2020 and 2021 sales, but the name might be moved to a crossover—or maybe not; Airflow does seem more catchy, and doesn’t look strange next to the Fiat 500. It would be amusing, admittedly, to have the next 300s named 300D the gasoline version, and 300E for the electric model. Chrysler had a 300D and 300E in the past, after all, even if Mercedes used the same names for different reasons.

What’s next for Pacifica is a big open question. Carlos Tavares referred to a battery-electric replacement for the minivan, somewhat vaguely, without specifically saying that it would indeed be a minivan. Supply issues make trend-spotting rather difficult, but it does appear minivan sales have been sagging for everyone except Toyota, and their new all-hybrid minivan did not have a stellar first year. Could Chrysler abandon the segment they created? We’ll find out in 2028.

Warning: Nearly all of this story was speculation. Chrysler has provided no official announcements beyond the existence of new BEV muscle Dodges, the Airflow being close to production intent, ending the Hellcat in 2023, and making Chrysler-brand all BEV in 2028. 

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