Dodge attempts turnaround -- by selling pink muscle cars
I hate to kick a guy when he's down, but sometimes people just bring it on themselves: Today, Dodge released pictures of the new color scheme for its top-end muscle car, the Challenger. The color is called "furious fuchsia."
Click here to see it, then come right back.
I'm going to pause here for a moment to let that sink in.
Okay, moving on.
Dodge, as you know, is a division of Chrysler, which went through bankruptcy last year and is still trying to find itself, unlike General Motors, which also went through bankruptcy (and is 61 percent owned by the U.S. taxpayer) last year. For years, Chrysler was the weakest of the Big Three, and now, that's only more true.
As the only U.S. automaker not to take taxpayer help, Ford is gulping up rivals' market share. GM, while no exemplar of how to shave off burdensome brands, is refocusing on its core vehicles.
Chrysler? It's kind of all over the place.
Chrysler was able to make it through bankruptcy with the aid of Fiat, which now owns 20 percent of the company and appears to be in charge of the venerated Detroit automaker. A Chrysler-badged Lancia (owned by Fiat) appeared at the Detroit auto show last month. Chrysler and Fiat's Lancia are about to roll out a joint-production plant in Geneva. Dodge has spun off its popular Ram truck into a separate brand.
Maybe there's a strategy in all this, but it seems hard to believe it involves making pink muscle cars.
The car itself is not the problem: I am on record as saying that, if I had an extra $42,000 sitting around, there would be a brand-new, 425-horsepower Dodge Challenger sitting unapologetically in my garage yesterday. This car has a proud history, and the updated version is no joke.
Furious fuchsia is not a name for a muscle car color. It is a name for a nail polish color. Or a riot grrrl band. Or even a particularly flamboyant disco. But not a muscle car.
Did we mention 85 percent of Dodge Challenger buyers are male?
Pity the poor Dodge spokesman who was forced to say the following line to CNN: "I saw it in person, and it actually looks pretty cool. It's tough to capture how it looks in the daylight."
Number of people who will see furious fuchsia Dodge Challenger in person: approximately 50,000.
Number of people who will see furious fuchsia Dodge Challenger on TV, the Internet, in magazine ads and so forth: approximately 50 million.
Sergio Marchionne is the smart, smooth head of Fiat and is probably Chrysler's best chance to become relevant again. It's hard to believe he checked off on "furious fuchsia."
Follow me on Twitter at @theticker
February 8, 2010; 4:26 PM ET
Categories: Corporations , The Ticker | Tags: Chrysler, Dodge, Dodge Challenger, Fiat, Ford, GM, General Motors, Lancia
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