"That thing got a HEMI?" will become a much less interesting question later this new year as the Chrysler Group launches a marketing campaign in March that will give consumers the ability to answer it with a yes... for free.

The Chrysler Group plans to offer the $1,700 option at no additional cost to Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep buyers to rev up excitement about its truck line. This is likely a better option for the automaker that an incentive or rebate that no one will notice, but could also diminish the value of the HEMI brand they have worked so hard to re-establish. They're also looking at incentive programs up to $5,000 back on some high-volume models and, such as the Ram truck and minivan lines. A no-charge DVD Entertainment System ($1,000 option) promotion for minivans begins in April, as well.

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[Source: Detroit News]


The Chrysler Group is working on creative ways to market its products while at the same time repair its damaged relationships with the dealers who sell them. On the heels of the Eberhardt resignation, CEO Tom LaSorda will head out on a nationwide dealership tour to assure his dealer base that the folks in charge have refocused their efforts to help them sell, sell, sell.

Apparently this shift in attitude is beginning to make an impact. Working to reduce a projected loss of $1.2 billion dollars in 2006, DCX was the only member of what used to be the "Big 3" to report an increase in sales (+4%) for the month of December. Both Ford and GM were down over 9% in December. What's more: the once ridiculously bloated sales bank of vehicles has been reduced from 140,000 at the beginning of last month to below 10,000 at the New Year.

The real question here, however, is when do you stop giving things away and start building vehicles that people want in volumes that people will buy them? Consumers have way too many choices for automakers to continue working under the "if we build it, they will come" attitude. The first automaker to quit babbling what they are 'going' to do, deflate their based-on-the-'90's ego and bloated opinion of themselves, and actively listen to the consumer will be the ultimate winner.


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