American motor industry insiders have today confirmed that Dodge is working on a rear-wheel-driven two-seater sports car to rival Mazda's MX-5. Only this week Autocar reported rumours that the company was keen on the idea of a compact two-seater; we've now learned that the car has already been shown to select motor industy media in the US, and is a dead cert for the Geneva motor show in March.
According to Autocar's sources, the new Dodge is "a carbon copy of the Mazda MX-5," and does indeed draw a few cues from the Dodge Razor concept of 2002. It will perfectly fit Dodge’s position as a performance brand in both the US and Europe, and will be a competitor for both the Mazda MX-5 and GM's award-winning Pontiac Solstice.
“The small sports car market is an ideal fit for Dodge," Chrysler Group design chief Trevor Creed told Autocar. "It’s a market relatively untapped by the big players, and I would think there are opportunities there - just watch this space.”
Chrysler CEO Tom La Sorda also thinks a small Dodge sports car is a good idea, although he’s concerned about formulating the right business case. “It’s something we should certainly look at,” said La Sorda, “but it has limited volume and there are other new segments where maybe the business case is better.”
Chrysler has had recent bad experience of the sports coupe market with the Crossfire; “It's tough,” said La Sorda. “I think the way for a small sports car to succeed is to set your volumes low, the lifecycles short and to make money. Then, if the volume and the lifecycle goes up, you make a lot more money.”