The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

28 July 2004

Mopar for the course

From the Department of What Were They Thinking? comes this bit of news from Auburn Hills: DaimlerChrysler is pondering the creation of another nameplate to go head-to-head with Toyota's ostensibly youth-oriented Scion brand.

From a company which has actually killed off two brands in recent years — Eagle and Plymouth — this qualifies as bizarre. Certainly the dealerships aren't in any mood to spring for more signage changes.

But assuming that what Gen Y wants is low-priced, quirky vehicles is dangerous. Scion has low-priced and quirky in spades, yet the average Scion buyer is forty years old. Honda's Tupperware-based Element, originally pitched at post-adolescent males, sells largely to soccer moms. And Chrysler's own PT Cruiser missed its intended twentysomething market entirely.

DaimlerChrysler admittedly doesn't cover the bottom price rung very well, with only Dodge's Neon competing, but with Chrysler wanting to play in Lincoln land these days, the company's German overlords might do better by going back to Chrysler's Seventies practice of importing Asian vehicles, this time perhaps from Hyundai, and slapping implausible names on them.

As for the twentysomethings I know best, my two children, well, he drives an essentially-extinct Oldsmobile Silhouette van, and she drives a Toyota Matrix wagonlet. Between them, they've owned one Mopar product over the years: he once had a Dodge Ram pickup. I don't know what it would take to get them to put Chrysler or Dodge on their want lists, but I'm reasonably certain that they are quite immune to appeals to their age group.

Posted at 11:49 AM to Driver's Seat

Are you implying that forty isn't youthful!?

Posted by: McGehee at 2:23 PM on 28 July 2004

Listen here, you young whippersnapper, when I was your age, we bought cars with thousand-dollar rebates, and we liked it!

("Young", I suppose, is redundant next to "whippersnapper"; cf. "geezer".)

Posted by: CGHill at 2:48 PM on 28 July 2004

Oh ye of all knowledge; just what age group to *my* cars appeal to? I'm already aware I own the top lesbian & gay cars.

Posted by: wamprat at 3:38 PM on 28 July 2004

Just realized something; does that make me bi-sexual?

Posted by: wamprat at 3:39 PM on 28 July 2004

The Wife and I actually went and looked at Scions. The salesguy seemed nonplussed that we would even consider one. The "sales brochure" was actually a magazine with MTV-on-acid graphics and layout. It contained a hip hop CD.

We opted for a Mini Cooper instead but 3 weeks ago another woman in our office (late 30s, 2 kids) showed up driving an xB.

Posted by: The Proprietor at 4:13 PM on 28 July 2004

So far as I know, no motor vehicle actually affects one's sexual orientation, though a VW New Beetle convertible does bring out one's girly side. :)

The definitive Old Geezermobile, I suppose, is the Ford Crown Victoria. (No offense to anyone wearing a crown or named Victoria.)

Mitsubishi, a couple years ago, pitched itself to the young urban pub-crawling crowd, and lost many millions of dollars when said crowd displayed a tendency to overextend itself financially. Toyota can probably afford to take this kind of hit; Mitsu couldn't.

Posted by: CGHill at 4:36 PM on 28 July 2004

No offense taken.

Posted by: Vickie at 6:46 AM on 29 July 2004