Dodge Wants to Make Every Car Into a Charger
By now, you’re probably well-aware of how awesome the Hellcat twins are. Even though the 2016 Hellcats are getting a small price increase, you still get an amazing amount of performance for your money. 707 horsepower is a heck of a lot of horsepower after all, and with an MSRP of less than $70,000, owning a Hellcat is something a regular person can reasonably dream of.
Thanks to the popularity of both the Challenger and Charger Hellcats, Dodge has increased production for 2016, and there are also rumors that there will be even more ultra-high-performance Hellcat versions of different models. But even if not every vehicle in the Dodge lineup ends up getting turned into a Hellcat, future products will all have a little bit of Hellcat DNA in them, according to Automotive News.
“Performance is good business,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge’s President and CEO. “But it’s way more than horsepower and quarter-mile times. Performance is an attitude first, and nobody can chase you on attitude.”
Kuniskis’ plan goes a little beyond building cars with attitude, though. He also holds the Charger up as the kind of vehicle he wants to see other cars in the lineup imitate.
“Our goal for Dodge, for every vehicle in our lineup, is to build every car as a Charger,” Kuniskis said. “Not to look like the Charger, but to do what Charger does compared to the rest of its segment. To be the square peg in the round hole that stands out from the crowd.”
If anything, it’s a move that will give the company an identity of its own for the first time in decades. In the past, Dodge has had a few strong-selling cars in its lineup, but it’s been a while since the brand had much cohesion across its entire stable. Now, when you’re talking about what makes a Dodge a Dodge, Kuniskis wants you to think “power and performance.”
It also helps that Dodge is making this move in a time when gas is much more affordable than it used to be.
“The timing of this move was great and OPEC cooperated by lowering the price of gas,” Ralph Mahalak Jr., an FCA dealer, said jokingly. “Everybody’s trying to make all of their cars performance oriented right now, and nobody’s really advertising that their car gets 35 [miles per gallon]. But the amount of [Internet] action that we’re getting on Chargers and Challengers right now is just crazy.”
At least for now, the plan appears to be working. Charger sales are up 2%, and Challenger sales are up even more – a whopping 38% through July. Its overall sales have been declining since 2013, but with the company’s lineup going through so many changes, it’s not surprising. According to Dodge, it’s even planned. By 2018, sales are expected to be back above 2013 levels, though, with a lineup that’s stronger than ever.
One of the more interesting aspects of Kuniskis’s plan to revitalize Dodge is that in a lot of ways, his strategy is the opposite of what you would expect it to be. Performance cars are typically expected to be slow sellers, and yet he wants to stake the brand’s identity on building those kinds of cars. Instead of failing, though, he’s actually succeeding, not just at selling cars but at getting people excited about the brand.
It’ll be interesting to see how a focus on power and performance translates to cars like the Dart and the Journey, but don’t pretend you wouldn’t want to drive an SRT or even a Hellcat version of either. After all, everyone deserves to be able to do a burnout, whether they’re driving a Challenger Hellcat or a midsize crossover SUV.