Chrysler Greenlights Challenger. Shows Chrysler is Getting Smart About Niche Cars

Posted by: David Kiley on June 30, 2006

challenger.jpg

Chrysler Corp. this Saturday is expected to announce that it will build the much ballyhooed Challenger muscle car concept car, which made its debut at last January’s North American International Motor Show. The car is expected to go on sale in 2008.
Though a muscle car seems slightly out of step with a mounting emphasis in the marketplace for fuel efficient vehicles, the Challenger, say company officials, addresses the demand for vehicles with strong styling statements.
The car will be built on Chrysler’s LX platform, which has several shared elements with the company’s Mercedes-Benz sister company, and also underpins the highly successful Chrysler 300, and the Dodge Charger and Dodge Magnum.
The addition of the Charger shows, too, how Chrysler has gotten good at building low-cost “top-hats” on one engineering platform. While the company says that it greenlighted the Challenger because of overwhelming positive feedback from the auto show, Chrysler CEO Tom Lasorda said in an interview with me earlier this year that, “There is a lot less risk in doing a Challenger than there used to be.”
Contrast the Challenger, for example, to Ford’s Thunderbird. The cost of producing the T-bird was high and it was put into a factory that made its break-even point quite high for a niche car. Lasorda says that Chryler could limit production of the car at a plant that is cranking out 300s and Chargers to maintain demand and eliminate the need to over-produce or incentivize the car. If the car turns out to have a natural market of say, 20,000 a year, low by mass-market standards, Chrysler will still make money. The company could also decide to put a sunset of three years on the car to maintain demand, and still make money. “Overproducing a car that has a niche in the marketplace is the worst thing you can do, Lasorda said earlier this year.
GM has decided to build its Camaro, which also debuted at the Detroit show last year. And, of course, Ford continues to do well with its Mustang muscle car. Even with high gas prices ushering in a new crop of econocars, the market still likes its muscle.
The Dodge Challenger made its debut in the fall of 1969 as a 1970 model. While it shared emginnering platforms with the Plymouth Barracuda, Dodge Challenger’s wheelbase was two inches longer, creating more interior space. The Dodge Challenger was originally offered as either a two-door hardtop or convertible. The original Challenger was produced only from 1970 to 1974, and maintains status as one of the most desirable “pony” cars of the era.

Reader Comments

Joe Thompson

July 1, 2006 1:29 AM

Good move for Chrysler. Hopefully the interest for such muscle cars hasn't waned by the time the Challenger hits the show rooms in 2008.

Joel A

July 5, 2006 3:41 PM

FINALLY somebody got it.

Much of the press is now questioning if there's a market for muscle cars. That's like asking if there's room for yet another woman's clothing store in the mall. Of COURSE there is. Yes, gas prices are important but it's secondary to many folks out there. Otherwise, we'd all be buying Civics, Corollas, and Chevys.

george burkard

April 9, 2007 10:08 PM

looks great. I hope this is the car you build. I would buy this car.

Kaleb Hays

August 22, 2007 8:35 AM

I hope this car is the would you will bulid i would sure buy it.

austin

August 31, 2007 4:34 PM

this car is badass

Rohi

September 21, 2007 2:05 PM

Finally after so many years a beautiful car! I would buy it if I had enough money

Net Tech 0296

September 23, 2007 9:19 PM

Can't wait till it hits the showroom, I tried to buy the concept car at the autoshow and they wouldnt sell it:-(

kurdo

September 26, 2007 4:05 AM

kurdo50 made your girlfriend dump you ha ha u got dumped

brandon bernier

October 10, 2007 12:20 PM

about time the musle cars come out looking like musle.im tierd of cars with power that look shitty.i would buy this car

joe

November 21, 2007 11:58 AM

If more automakers didn't have so many yes men in the board rooms they would probably have niche car sales with tailwinds such as the gents behind early Mustang and GTO. I think the Challenger is a great idea and the competitors should also revive the husky early 70's chevelle in the same mannner ( not like making a dork car and
calling it a new 2006 malibu...oops they missed --shit car). How about the body lines that made the car famous with the horsepower to match......unfortunately it will probably never happen because of old timer chin scratchers that employ all the yes men who try to keep their jobs.

james

March 30, 2008 8:54 AM

this is a good looking car...but bad on gas mileage...unless gas comes down...its not going to selling that many..unless it had a v-6 with 30 miles to a gal

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