Tempted by the Demon, dealers find way to thwart Dodge, jack up prices

  • Image Credit: Dodge
It's the eternal story of short supply, big demand - and car dealers eager to exploit that dynamic, especially when it involves a hot car. A few weeks ago, when Dodge announced that it devised a way to attempt to prevent price-gouging on those 840-horsepower 2018 Dodge Demons, you just knew the dealers would dream up some devilish end-run. And sure enough, despite the manufacturer's best intentions, Demon order slots are being offered with five-figure markups.

Here's how things were supposed to work:

With a run of just 3,000 cars, Dodge knew it had to do something to address dealer greed, so it announced an allocation system: Cars purchased at or below the $86,090 MSRP would be the first orders filled and delivered. If a dealer sells an allocated Demon for more than sticker, that car goes to the end of the line for production and delivery. Dodge also ensured dealers wouldn't stockpile or hoard Demons by limiting the number of orders a dealer can submit and allocating cars to dealers based on how many Challenger and Charger Hellcats the dealer has sold.

But Automotive News reports that some dealers are using intermediaries to auction off their Demon allocations on eBay. Three sellers last week said they were representing dealers in South Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana, and auctioning off the right to buy a car in one of the priority spots at MSRP. The minimum bid for the right to buy the car at sticker? From $10,000-25,000. And previous transactions on eBay might have run as high as $75,000. So early buyers are definitely paying an upcharge - but it's a thing apart from the bottom line on the order form, where it appears they are paying MSRP.

In other words, a scheme that violates the spirit of what FCA tried to do.

A source at FCA told Automotive News the automaker was monitoring the practice but could do little to stop it. And the report quoted a Hellcat owner who said his dealership was ignoring Dodge's strictures altogether and offered him a Demon at MSRP plus $60K.

But take heart. Not all car dealers are cynically opportunistic - or rather, some see an opportunity for doing good, not making buck. Automotive News says Bill Marsh Chrysler in Traverse City, Mich., plans to sell its single allocated Demon for $1 under MSRP - and is auctioning off the right to buy it, with the dealership's existing customers eligible to bid. The auction's proceeds will benefit four Traverse City charities.

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