OAK BROOK, IL – The “Imported from Detroit” marketing messageintroduced during the 2011 Super Bowl broadcast has paid unexpected dividends that should get even better, Saad Chehab, president and CEO of the brand, says here.
“sales rose by 100,000 units (in) 2012 over 2011, Chrysler brand sales rose by 36%, we gained three points (of) market share in the midsize car segment with the Chrysler 200 and the Chrysler 300 flagship gained eight points of market share,” he tells the Midwest Automotive Media Assn. in ticking off a long list of positive effects derived from the ad campaign.
“We're on a roll with 40% year-over-year growth without new products in the marketplace, but rather with a new marketing campaign,” he adds. “Just imagine what we'll do with all-new products when our all-new Chrysler 200 comes out next year and the next-generation 300 follows after that (expected for 2015).”
To keep the momentum going until next-generation entries appear, Chrysler has introduced several special-edition series of cars aimed at keeping consumers interested, such as sporty S models of the 200 and 300 sedans and Motown, Varvatos and Glacier models of the 300.
“The sporty 200S series with bigger wheels and grille and a sportier attitude has helped 200 sales rise by 200% in California and is attracting younger buyers and accounts for 25% of all 300 sales,” Chehab says.
Other specialty models pay tribute to the historical impact of Detroit in keeping with the “Imported from Detroit” theme, such as the Chrysler 300 Motown edition named to honor the musical history of Detroit and the Varvatos version honoring native Detroit and now New York fashion designer John Varvatos, as well as the Chrysler 300 Glacier edition that points to Michigan as the birthplace of snowboarding.
“‘Imported from Detroit’ resonates with America and gives people the impression that if they work hard, they can make it and don't have to pay a premium to go overseas for something,” the brand executive says. “‘Imported from Detroit’ is a tribute to the city and also is meant to inspire people to realize Chrysler is alive and well and doing something right.”
Asked what role diesels might play in future Chrysler cars, Chehab points to the 300 sedan sold in Europe and Jeep Grand Cherokee in the U.S., two models already with optional oil-burners.
“We aren't sure yet what other vehicles the diesel might be offered in,” he says. “It's a matter of what our customers can afford, and a diesel is expensive. We'll watch to see what the take rate is on the Grand Cherokee.”
As for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, he says Chrysler has the technology available if it decides to move in that direction. Thebrand will launch an electric version of its 500 model in the U.S. this year.
“But we have to be careful because of the cost of the technology that's passed on to the customer,” Chehab says. “We aren't sure the share of these alternative-fuel cars is growing that much or that other fuel-efficient technology such as diesels or (compressed natural gas) would work even better without the high premium costs. That is something we are looking at.”
Chrysler already offers a CNG version of its Ram fullsize pickup in the U.S.