Before they even made cars, Dodge churned out products you wouldn’t expect. While the automaker is synonymous with powerful muscle cars today such as the Charger and Challenger, they started out making bicycles and stoves (Thrillist).
Today, they're a long ways away from making kitchen appliances or wheels you have to pedal. Since then, they’ve made plenty of iconic automobiles. Plus, in January 2014, Fiat bought Chrysler to bring Dodge under its wing.
Yet despite the automaker’s long list of successes, it has had its share of scandals and controversies too. We’re going to look at suspicious activities over the years by Dodge—and Fiat Chrysler, as it relates to Dodge vehicles.
20 They Sold Dodge Rams With Fake Emission Levels
One of Fiat Chrysler’s biggest scandals just emerged in recent years. According to CNN, diesel vehicles such as the Dodge Ram 1500 sold with software that lied about emission levels. It was a choice that ultimately cost the auto corporation an astounding $800 million. Without a doubt, it was sketchy the way Dodge tried to weasel their way around emission laws.
19 At Least Forty-One Reported Injuries Resulted From A Shifter
Dodge had a major problem with one of its shifters. Fiat Chrysler used what’s called a rocker-switch gear shift. According to Endurance Warranty, the automaker designed it so that whenever drivers shift, it goes back to the center after. They put it in their 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers, but in the end, it led to a reported forty-one injuries.
18 Execs Supposedly Bribed Labor Union Leaders
One of the top officials of the United Automobile Workers labor union supposedly received bribes from Fiat Chrysler. According to Detroit News, to make their relationship with the UAW a favorable one, they gifted a labor official gifts, including a rented villa in Palm Springs with models, wine and cigars.
17 MLK Super Bowl Ad
The Super Bowl broadcasts air all kinds of commercials that can be humorous, bizarre and even emotional. The automaker tried their hand at a more emotional one a couple years back for the Dodge Ram. It featured audio from a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. Even though they claimed in a statement to have “worked closely with the representatives of the Martin Luther King Jr. estate," it fell flat with some (BigThink.com).
16 Takata Airbags
Lots of automakers experienced a setback when a defect in Takata airbags came to light. According to Cheat Sheet, Dodge got hit hard by the recall, which affected a long list of popular models such as the Challenger, Charger, Dakota, plenty of Ram models and more. While it wasn’t necessarily Dodge’s fault, it did reflect poorly on the automaker's image.
15 The Government Bailed Them Out In The 1970s
Chrysler fell on hard times during the 1970s. According to Investopedia, it was largely due to Chrysler’s ambitious attempt to broaden its brand both in the states and abroad. By the time 1979 rolled around, they needed help. Since it would have hurt the economy to have Chrysler go under, the U.S. government ultimately loaned the automaker $1.5 billion.
14 They Recalled Vehicles With Rocker-Switch Shifters
The rocker-switch shifters addressed earlier gave Fiat Chrysler a lot of problems. Customers had trouble with this new technology and it forced the automaker to take action. In the end, Endurance Warranty reports that Fiat Chrysler recalled hundreds of thousands of cars, including Dodge Chargers, because drivers didn't like them.
13 They Sold Damaged Vehicles
Back in 1987, Chrysler got in trouble for selling damaged vehicles they dressed up to look brand new. According to the Chicago Tribune, they even racked up 400 miles on some vehicles and hid it by disconnecting the odometers. It was a sketchy trick that ultimately led to a fine.
12 “Man’s Last Stand” Super Bowl Ad
Cars and ads have long had a male-centric leaning. To see what we’re talking about, read cringeworthy primitive car ads you couldn’t get away with today. Yet almost a decade ago, Dodge ran an ad during a Super Bowl for the Charger that essentially painted men out to be obedient husbands who never do what they want. This sexist approach didn’t exactly sit well with the masses though (The Guardian).
11 Sergio Marchionne
The late Sergio Marchionne helped make Fiat Chrysler the successful corporation it is today. He wasn’t without his share of controversies, however. According to The Detroit News, he gave a watch to a union leader. There was even a handwritten note that came with it reading, “Dear General, I declared the goods at less than fifty bucks. That should remove any potential conflict. Best regards, and see you soon.”
10 They Pulled Ads From a ‘90s Sitcom
When the sitcom Ellen aired an episode where its titular character came out of the closet, Chrysler wouldn’t have any of it. The Advocate reports that the automaker took action by pulling its ads from broadcasts of the episode. Looking back, it was one of those decisions that may have had a different response out of the public if it happened today.
9 They Issued A Recall Without The Ability To Repair The Vehicles
Recalls happen, even to the best automakers. Where it gets sketchy is Fiat Chrysler’s response. Back in July 2014, the Detroit Free Press reports they issued a recall on cars and trucks but didn’t have the parts to do the repairs. That questionable response presented an even greater headache for car owners on top of the recall itself.
8 They Got Rid Of The Rocker-Switch Shifters In The Charger
Fiat Chrysler tried to introduce a different kind of shifter, but ultimately shifted their stance on it. According to Endurance Warranty, they had to take it out of their vehicles, such as the Dodge Charger. The 2015 model year was the last one to carry it. More than likely, Dodge wishes the public could forget all about it.
7 They Retracted An Offer To Team Up With Renault
Fiat Chrysler was once in talks to join Renault. The automaker that owns Dodge had extended an official offer to Renault. Yet as the latter was still reviewing the details, Fiat Chrysler retracted their offer. It looked sketchy on the surface and is probably one of those events Fiat Chrysler would prefer people forget about (Digital Trends).
6 Dodge Chargers Recalled Over Sun Visors
Car regulations can be strict. Yet it seems like Dodge would be on top of them when making cars. One of their most popular models, the Charger, got flagged by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its sun visor. According to MotorSafety.org, the sun visors in 2019 models didn’t have air bag warnings. As a result, they had to issue a recall.
5 They Falsified Sales Numbers
There’s a report Fiat Chrysler may have boosted their sales numbers to look better. According to USA today, they found out their sales had reflected 5,000 to 6,000 more units sold than the reality. The same source reported on this in July 2016. Whatever the case may be for this error, it didn’t look good.
4 Dodge Rams Recalled For Diesel Engines
Cummins may have a reputation for its pickup truck engines in the RAM models, but a recall may have hurt their image—hurting Dodge as well. According to Equipment World, the recall hurt Fiat Chrysler’s bottom line for a massive $200 million. In turn, they decided to sue Cummins for $60 million to offset the pain.
3 NHTSA Believed The Rocker-Switch Shifter Posed A Risk To Drivers
Drivers weren’t the only ones to complain about Fiat Chrysler’s rocker-switch shifter in vehicles like the Dodge Charger. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration said it had “poor tactile and visual feedback to the driver, increasing the potential for unintended gear selection.” It was sketchy the automaker rolled out this technology on cars in the first place (Endurance Warranty).
2 Ignition Switch Recall
Here’s a scary thought: imagine having an ignition switch that can randomly switch to other modes while keys are in, potentially disrupting critical functions. Chrysler issued a recall in 2008, which had affected Dodge Chargers and Magnums. It was a faulty part in their vehicles that even led to the tragic loss of lives (Los Angeles Times).
1 A New Plant Going Up In Detroit
Land in Detroit recently got approval for a new Fiat Chrysler plant going up. Detroit Metro Times reports there’s some questions though surrounding one of the billionaires who's part of the project who's getting $43.5 million to make the plant. While it doesn’t involve Dodge directly, the automaker once again finds itself in a circle of controversy.
Sources: Thrillist, CNN, The Detroit News, BigThink.com, The Guardian, Investopedia, Detroit Free Press, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, The Advocate, Detroit Metro Times, Endurance Warranty, Digital Trends, MotorSafety.org, Cheat Sheet, Equipment World, Los Angeles Times