Special editions don't have to be reserved for the rich.
It has been quite a long time since Dodge has announced any generational changes to the Charger sedan or Challenger Coupe. These two models have been on the market in their current generations since 2011 and 2008 respectively with facelifts in the 2015 model year. Despite some obvious flaws, including a platform dating back to 2004, the Charger and Challenger continue to sell well and attract customers.
At the 2019 New York Auto Show, Dodge displayed its latest additions to the Charger and Challenger lineups, the Stars and Stripes Editions. Unlike some expensive special edition models from other manufacturers, the Stars and Stripes package only adds $1,995 to the price of the car, meaning this is a special edition car that is actually affordable.
We sat down with Kevin Hellman, Brand Manager for the Challenger to talk about why these models have had such good longevity and how special editions keep customers interested. "I think these two cars are great canvases for that kind of stuff," Hellman said in reference to special editions and packages. "To keep it fresh and to keep guys coming back, again and again, a lot of times are coming back for color. We'll bring back a heritage color and customers will say - 'oh, man, Sublime is back. They didn't have it when I bought mine in '16'. - So they'll buy another one. It's a way to engage our audience."
In reference to the Stars and Stripes Package, Hellman said, "This is a way to offer something for a couple of grand that [customers] can finance and they can build it into the package of the car. It looks great, but it has a custom look. They're not going to be driving down the street likely and see another one."
"The Stars and Stripes is available on our GT model, our RT model, and our RT Scat Pack, and they're not limited. We want people to continue because these are prideful cars for a lot of our buyers, an extension of themselves. I have friends in the military who say - 'dude, I see Chargers and Challengers all over the base' - so we know that there's a correlation. We want to support that and let them continue that pridefulness for their car, for the military, and their country. We're always trying to pay attention to where we can tie in more with our customers."
Dodge has clearly done a good job of connecting with customers on social media because it was named the most loved brand on Facebook last year. "It's because we're engaging, we're using our customers pictures, putting them on there talking to them, talking with them, and having a back and forth conversation where they feel kind of part of the family," Hellman said.
Dodge is even doing a good job attracting women to the brand. "I see so many more women driving a Challenger and I get so excited," Hellman exclaimed. "It just finally started getting warm in Detroit. So a couple of weekends ago, everyone starts to bring out their cars, right? I remember I saw four Shakers that weekend and three of them were being driven by women. I was like, that's awesome."
With such good attention to what customers want, we wanted to bring up a specific request we had seen from some of our readers - an all-wheel-drive Hellcat. It certainly seems like this would be possible, given that the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk already has this drivetrain. "We've definitely had requests for V8 all-wheel-drive but the volume isn't that high" Hellman explained. "We did V6 because it represents 60% of our mix between the two cars. Why would I chase the one V8 when I could get the much larger percentage of my mix?"
So while an all-wheel-drive Hellcat is not currently being considered, if enough people asked for it, Dodge would be quick to listen to its customers.