New Dodge Dart dares to be different
As Chrysler Group LLC readies its new entry into the hotly contested compact car segment, the company is hoping to stand out from the crowd by allowing its customers to make their 2013 Dodge Dart different from all the rest.
The Auburn Hills automaker is eschewing the menu of option packages most car companies offer in favor of an à la carte approach that allows customers to configure their car their way. Want a manual transmission with an orange leather interior and a navigation system? No problem.
“We’ve got over 100,000 different ways to configure and personalize the Dodge Dart,” said Richard Cox, Dodge brand director. “We’ve unbundled a lot of options to make it easier for customers to get exactly what they want.”
Chrysler is responding to a broader societal trend. Consumers — particularly the younger ones car companies covet — want to put their personal stamp on the products they own. Think cellphone cases and laptop covers.
Cox said the company’s market research shows these consumers want to be able to do that with their cars, too. And by allowing them to tailor their Dart their way, Chrysler hopes to give consumers another reason to buy it.
“Today, everyone is competing on fuel economy, price and reliability. We’ve got all those things, too. But we need to add to that,” Cox said. “We haven’t really been competitive in the compact car segment for a while. We need to give consumers a reason to give us another chance.”
Chrysler’s approach is a marked contrast to the streamlining strategy pursued by rival automakers such as Ford Motor Co.
When CEO Alan Mulally came to Ford from Boeing Co. in 2006, he was dismayed to discover how many variants were possible with each of the automaker’s products. The 2007 Ford Mustang, for example, was available with more than 16,000 color, upholstery and feature combinations — and that was just the V-6 Deluxe model.
Instead of an opportunity to play to each customer’s unique tastes, Ford’s CEO saw this as costly complexity that contributed to the company’s quality woes. So he ordered a radical simplification of Ford’s offerings. The next version of the Mustang offered 200 of the most popular combinations.
As Chrysler Group LLC readies its new entry into the hotly contested compact car segment, the company is hoping to stand out from the crowd by allowing its customers to make their 2013 Dodge Dart di…