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.