In 1901, John Francis Dodge and Horace Elgin Dodge moved their Dodge Brothers Bicycle & Machine Factory to Detroit, Michigan. Their bearings and other parts were in demand with the early automobile industry, and they helped design motor parts for early Oldsmobiles.
In 1902, the Dodge Brothers were approached by Henry Ford, who was looking for help in financing his own automobile company. Dodge Brothers helped finance the start of the Ford Motor Company as well as manufacturing parts for early Fords, to Ford's and the Dodge Brothers' mutual financial benefit.
In 1914, the Dodge Brothers started their own auto company, which they named the Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicle Company, choosing 50 dealers initially from hundreds of applications, some of which remain successful today. In a boost to their fortunes, the Dodge brothers brought a successful lawsuit against Ford in 1917. In the same year, Dodge Brothers began building motor trucks as well, at first for use by the United States Army during World War I, then commercially after the war's end.
In 1925, the Dodge Brothers Company was purchased by Dillon, Read & Company for US$148 million, said to be the largest cash transaction in history up to that time. Dillon Read in turn sold Dodge to the Chrysler Corporation on July 31, 1928.
Following Chrysler's takeover of the British Rootes Group, Simca of France and Barreiros of Spain, and the resultant establishment of Chrysler Europe in the late 1960s, the Dodge brand was used on light commercial vehicles, most of which were previously branded Commer or Karrier (Rootes subsidiaries), on pick-up and van versions of the Simca 1100, and on heavy trucks built in Spain. The most common of these was the Dodge 50 series, widely used by utility companies and the military, but rarely seen outside the UK. and the Spanish-built top-weight 300 series available as 4x2, 6x4, 8x2 and 8x4 rigids and 4x2 semi-trailer tractors. All of them were also sold in some export markets badged either as Fargo or De Soto
Following Chrysler Europe's collapse in 1977, and the sale of their assets to Peugeot, the Dodge British and Spanish factories were quickly passed on to Renault Véhicules Industriels, who gradually re-branded to Renault the range of vans and trucks through the 1980s, eventually dropping the products altogether and using the plants to produce engines in the UK and some real Renault truck models in Spain. Dodge would not return to the UK until the introduction of the Dodge Neon SRT-4, branded as a Chrysler Neon, in the mid 2000s.
Dodge is now part of DaimlerChrysler AG, based in Stuttgart. As of 2005, the Dodge brand has become known primarily for its trucks, which account for 78% of the division's sales. Dodge is attempting to change this with the introduction of the new Dodge Charger and the forthcoming Dodge Challenger.
The Dodge marque was reintroduced to Europe in 2006. Currently, the Dodge Viper SRT-10 (sold as the Dodge SRT-10 in the UK), Dodge Ram, and the Dodge Caliber are the only Dodge-branded vehicles in that market. The Dodge Nitro and the Dodge Avenger will be released in mid-2007.
Dodge recently re-entered the Australian market in 2006 after a 30 year absence. Dodge Australia plans to release a new model every six months for the next three years, amid plans to re-ignite the brand's interest down under. The first of such models is the Dodge Caliber, which was well received at the recent 2006 Melbourne Motor Show.
Dodge vehicles are now available in many countries throughout the world. In 2006, Dodge sold more than 1.3 million vehicles in the global market.