Final Inspection

As Chrysler’s SRT Goes Full Speed, Dodge Sputters Along

RSS

The auto maker unleashes a full-scale advertising campaign for the nascent performance brand, which had taken a back seat while the manufacturer was reinventing itself.

For as long as I’ve been on the Chrysler beat, I’ve asked SRT brand President Ralph Gilles at every opportunity when the performance division would have its own marketing campaign.

I’ve always gotten responses like “we’re working on something,” but each time was reminded that the good news of SRT – spun off from a trim level to a full-fledged division in 2010 – spread through word of mouth among car buffs, like a game of Telephone.

Now everyone’s on the line. Chrysler releases SRT’s first television ad (click here to watch the ad) and announces a full-scale campaign for the brand, which only has one model – the Viper – wearing its nameplate.

Go back to last year’s “It’s Halftime in America” Super Bowl ad, or any recent Chrysler ad, and you’ll see SRT conspicuously absent from the Jeep, Ram, Chrysler and Dodge lineup of marques. Though SRT has its own trained sales staff and even offers buyers driving courses on tracks, its presence has been overshadowed in the overall Chrysler comeback story.

Interestingly enough, as SRT finally comes to the forefront, there are questions about the future of sister-brand Dodge.

Chrysler executives readily will tell you that SRT and Dodge appeal to different buyers, but the overlaps between the brands are too big to ignore. Both are rooted in style and performance, though the engine under the hood of an SRT clearly goes well beyond the average 4-cyl. in a Dodge.

Last week, WardsAuto analyst Haig Stoddard noted that there has been no announcement for a midsized Dodge to replace the outgoing Avenger sedan, and that two other Dodge models may migrate to other brands.

One also can’t ignore that if you ask the average person to name a Dodge vehicle, he likely would call out a Dodge Ram – though Ram is now its own brand. Like Ram, SRT also has a common link to Dodge in the former Dodge Viper.

Chrysler appears to be positioning SRT as a high-performance, American-made alternative to Mercedes-Benz’s AMG or BMW’s M division.

But because SRT also tunes Chrysler’s upper-end models like the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Jeep Grand Cherokee, such styling and price points would also put SRT on the lists of cross-shoppers who might consider a Lexus or Acura. And since SRT tunes products significantly different than their base models, Chrysler can also avoid falling into Ford’s predicament of remaking a premium brand that doesn't simply consist of leather-wrapped versions of its mainstream models.

So what does that mean for Dodge? With Chrysler as the mainstream brand and SRT as a premium alternative (and one could predict that like the Corvette for Chevrolet and General Motors, the Viper would be the de facto halo car), Dodge could be lost in the shuffle.

It will be some time before we can fully measure response to SRT, but one thing is clear: SRT has arrived and is ready to take you to your destination.

afoley@wardsauto.com

Discuss this Blog Entry 4

on Jun 18, 2013

Beginning with the Cerberus era, Chrysler has allowed Dodge to lose it's way. The evidence: 1. Making the Charger a four-door. There's nothing wrong with a four-door, there IS something wrong with a four-door Charger. 2. Making the Avenger a four-door (see # 1). 3. Removing the Dodge name from the pickup trucks (Ram? Are they really serious?). 4. Basing the Dart on a Fiat (the Dart had a good heritage, Fiat not so much), and making it a four door as well (see # 1). 5. Desinging a Challenger which looks EXACTLY like the one from the '70's, only larger and heavier. More evidence of Chrysler's goofs? 5. Slapping two more doors on the Wrangler (a four-door Charger was bad enough). 6. Re-naming the Sebring the "200", changing nothing, and expecting it to sell.

I see the situation with Chrysler getting worse under Fiat control.

on Jun 18, 2013

Beginning with the Cerberus era, Chrysler has allowed Dodge to lose it's way. The evidence: 1. Making the Charger a four-door. There's nothing wrong with a four-door, there IS something wrong with a four-door Charger. 2. Making the Avenger a four-door (see # 1). 3. Removing the Dodge name from the pickup trucks (Ram? Are they really serious?). 4. Basing the Dart on a Fiat (the Dart had a good heritage, Fiat not so much), and making it a four door as well (see # 1). 5. Desinging a Challenger which looks EXACTLY like the one from the '70's, only larger and heavier. More evidence of Chrysler's goofs? 5. Slapping two more doors on the Wrangler (a four-door Charger was bad enough). 6. Re-naming the Sebring the "200", changing nothing, and expecting it to sell.

I see the situation with Chrysler getting worse under Fiat control.

on Jun 20, 2013

great post, thanks for sharing this kind of information about the my favorite cars.

on Dec 31, 2013

General motor have launched some new and latest models including fiat punto. The different car that is mentioned on this article is new to me. This is a terrific article, and I would like more information if you have any. I will get back later. Thanks.
Omni Tech Support Review

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Final Inspection?

WardsAuto editors share insights and observations on the global auto industry.

Contributors

Dave Zoia

As Editorial Director, I oversee much of what goes into WardsAuto.com, enjoying a ringside seat that lets me observe up close just about every facet of the industry worldwide. I have covered the...

James M. Amend

James Amend is an associate editor at WardsAuto.com, covering day-to-day business and product news at General Motors. He also leads coverage of regulatory and environmental issues, as well as the...
Blog Archive

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×