American Muscle is Back and Here to Stay

Discussion in 'Hellcat News and Site Announcements' started by cereal killer, May 27, 2015.

  1. cereal killer

    cereal killer Gold Member

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    Ladies and gents if there was ever a doubt that Dodge's special brand of horsepower and awesomeness is just a flash in the pan, think again. WIRED conducted an interview with Dodge's CEO Tim Kuniskis and it's very clear he knows and understands the customer base of these performance machines. We particularly like the way the CEO is bringing in brand awareness and it's pretty ingenious. Check it out:
    Just brilliant Tim. Here is the full transcript of that interview, be sure to drop us a line and let us know what you think.
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    WIRED: You’ve just announced the track-focused Dodge Viper ACR. What’s the future of the muscle car?

    Tim Kuniskis: It’s interesting that you call it a muscle car. Because it is, and you’re dead on, you’re right. It’s funny though, a lot of people look at the car and they want to lump it in with [Porsche] 911s and Jaguars and things like that.

    If you look at the customers buying the Viper and what other cars they own and cross-shop against, they cross-shop against Camaros and Mustangs and Challengers. They go back and forth. A lot of the time, people have the Challenger and then they buy the Viper. People who have the Viper then buy a Hellcat. They’re not trading between the two, they’re adding to their collection.

    I made a point when we launched the ACR, when we launched the Hellcat, people said aren’t you taking all the focus away from the Viper and putting it on the Hellcat? We said no, we have a different avenue with that car. Now it’s a lot clearer. We have this Hellcat, it’s a trim level of the Challenger muscle car. It’s the ultimate muscle car.

    The ACR is the ultimate version of the Viper, which is our track car. You have one that’s the ultimate muscle car and one that’s ultimate track car.

    Back to your question about muscle cars, we see the segment really kind of exploding. Our volume is up substantially. Ford has their new Mustang out, their sales are up. The new Camaro just launched and that will be a big lift in the market. That’s getting really heated up.

    But the question is, why? Is it fuel prices? What is it? I have another theory.

    My theory of why that segment is blowing up is that the technology in these cars allows you to have what we call muscle cars, what we call performance cars, with minimal sacrifice. You get a Charger and you still have a full size sedan that you can take your kids to school in. The Challenger has a real backseat and you still get 31 mpg. Even on a 700-horsepower Hellcat, you still get 22 mpg. 31 mpg compared to the average midsize car at 35—if you do the math on somebody driving 12,000 miles per year, it’s really negligible.

    The other thing driving that interest is this: Think about all the cars in all the segments that you see on the highway. You drive around for an entire day and you’ll have a hard time telling one car from another. There are 290 different nameplates from 40 different brands.

    One of the key differentiators, historically, has been luxury. I challenge anybody to define luxury nowadays other than under the perspective of a brand. If you talk about features and content, what used to be considered luxury? Leather, cruise control, power windows, leather dashes, things like that. A lot have been pushed so far down into the trim levels and model levels and brands, that its pretty much available in every segment on every car. One of the things now that can really differentiate somebody is performance. Because it’s quantifiable. It’s a true differentiator.

    That’s what’s driving some of the interest, particularly from a younger demographic. That’s why you see the age swings so much on Dodge. Our Chargers and Challengers and Durango R/T, we’re driving such a young customer into those cars that we have the youngest customer base in the industry.

    WIRED: The other side of that is “What is a muscle car?” There are hybrids, turbos, smaller engines. Ferrari is making a turbo-powered car again. Exotic materials are everywhere. Is raw power enough? In five years is the Charger Hellcat going to be … “Well, we’re going to do a V6 with two turbos.” Or is the future in big, Detroit-classic, huge engines?

    Tim Kuniskis: What makes a muscle car? The personality and attitude of the car, over and above the raw horsepower number. If you look at a Charger or Challenger V6, those are our volume cars. They have 300 horsepower. The look awesome, they have an awesome personality, an incredible road presence. They sound great. People love these cars and everyone would describe them as a muscle car. Now, is it a 485-horsepower Scat Pack V8 that runs 12-second quarter-mile times? Or a 700-horsepower car? No.

    But, it’s always been that way in muscle car realm. A 300-horsepower V6, it wasn’t that long ago that that was one of the highest output V8 you could get. Just like luxury gets pushed down, the technology gets pushed down.

    At some point iron block, pushrod V8s are not going to be possible. Will it be the end of performance like it was in 1971? No. In 1971, we didn’t have the technology to overcome those challenges. Today we do. If you look at Porsche 918 and LaFerrari and things like that, you see them going with different technologies like hybrid electrification. Performance will never go away in my view. How we get there will change. Will we see smaller displacement turbos? Will we see electrification? Will we see hybrids? Of course we will.

    One of the most popular videos on YouTube these days is guys racing Hellcats against Teslas. Think about that. That’s crazy. But the Tesla is an amazing performance vehicle, it’s just different.

    WIRED: Is the Hellcat a one-off? Or are you going to keep this as an incredible, top-of-the-line trim level? Is it going to stick around?

    Tim Kuniskis: Why do you build a car like that? Is it profitable, does it make sense? Why do you do it? Why do you build a car like a Viper that’s handmade and hand painted and extremely expensive to produce and only sells in low volumes? Why do you build cars like Hellcats?

    We had record breaking Challenger sales last month. We’ll have record breaking Challenger sales again this month. Hellcat is a very small percentage of what we sell in Challengers.

    If we show you 6,000 to 7,000 Challenger sales in a month, it’ll be a few hundred Hellcats. That’s the inherent value and benefit of a halo car. If you look back at how we launched that car and how we staggered the launch over a five-month period, you’d say “This is ridiculous. Why are they doing all this? Why are they talking about this so much? They’ll never sell that many of them, they’ll never be able to built as many as they need for the demand that they’re building for the car.”

    Look at the excitement that that generated. Look at all the media impressions that it generated. We went back and did the math. That launch of that car, again a low volume, small production car. It generated 22.6 billion media impressions. Translates to half a million dollars in media value. There’s the value of a halo. We did it to sell the fact that we had a brand new Challenger.

    That’s why you do it. That’s the business case, the ROI of a Hellcat or or a Viper or an ACR. Why are we launching an ACR? You have a Viper that’s a very low-volume car. Now you have a niche inside a niche. But it’s the ultimate Viper. It’s the ultimate track version of the car. It gives me that ultimate halo muscle car. The ultimate halo track car that people can point to. The guys that are driving the V6 Charger are very quick to point out that the bones of that car are the same as in the Hellcat. That’s great.

    WIRED: Talking about the ultimate track day car, Dodge got out of NASCAR a while back. Is that something that you’re looking to get back into? Is the Viper ACR going to become a World Endurance Car?

    Tim Kuniskis: Nah. I get a lot of questions about racing. I like racing. But, from a business standpoint, I’m trying to position our products in places where I don’t have a built-in, natural audience. I’m not saying anything against NASCAR, but the fans, people at a NASCAR event, they know Dodge. I like to go places where maybe they don’t know us right now.

    For example, we sponsored Carey Hart’s supercross and motorcross team, RCH Racing. It fits very well with the Dodge brand, his personality and attitude match Dodge’s. And, if you look at the fan base of supercross and motorcross, their fan base is 18-34 year old multicultural males that are into performance.

    Could you find a better growth area for a performance brand that’s trying to bring in youth? Absolutely not. The more I can associate myself with places like that, and become known to that customer or future customer, the better off we will be as a brand.

    WIRED: You talked a lot about the US. Now you’re part of this global Fiat Chrysler company. Are Dodge’s muscle cars going to be selling in China and emerging markets? China doesn’t have a sports car culture like they do in the US or Britain.

    Tim Kuniskis: Dodge is mainly a North American company. We do sell internationally. It’s not big numbers. But in certain pockets we’re very strong. If you go to the Middle East, Dodge and SRT are really strong. Really Strong. Right now that’s probably our strongest market outside of NAFTA.

    What’s interesting though, I was recently at a launch event for Furious 7. It has a lot of Dodge product in it. That movie has exploded globally. It is the biggest movie that that franchise has ever had. I was at this event and there were two young gentlemen there from Japan. They came over and started talking to me. They said that they have an aftermarket parts business where they build performance parts for American muscle cars. I don’t mean little parts. They do a widebody kit for Challengers. I asked them where is their business was based and I was assuming they’d say LA. But no, it’s in Japan.

    I said that we don’t even sell cars in Japan and they said “we know, it’s really tough to get them.” But there is an underground performance movement there. People are getting these cars on the grey market and of course, that grey market enthusiast is your hardest-core enthusiast. They’re looking to modify them and make them faster. So, never say never, I guess.

    Source: WIRED
     
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  2. dHL0L

    dHL0L Gold Member

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    Wow, I really like this guys insight into the marketing of the Dodge brand and what he has to say. Really good read!
     
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  3. FreightTrain

    FreightTrain Comfortably Numb

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    Tim K said it, must be true;)
     
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  4. MoparProud

    MoparProud Silver Member

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    Tim K seems like a guy that "gets it" from a performance vehicle perspective. And that's a good thing.
     
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  5. jaque

    jaque Silver Member Hellcat Car Club HCC Charter Member

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    im soo long on fcau, stock is up 100% since october, still cheap, this guy is great for the brand, even tho i have no vin yet, i still like where he is headed with the company..great article..good post cereal k!
     
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  6. B5 Blue

    B5 Blue Platinum Member

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    Nice read. Not into auto stocks, healthcare jaque
     
  7. MaxxMuscle

    MaxxMuscle Gold Member Hellcat Car Club HCC Charter Member

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    Still wish they would get back in Nascar.
     
  8. cereal killer

    cereal killer Gold Member

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    He's definitely "one of us", not a number cruncher or stuffed suit.

    SRT Engineers: Hey Tim what do you think about dropping a 600HP engine into Challengers and Chargers?
    Tim K: 600HP? Are you kidding?
    SRT Engineers: Ummm....No sir
    Tin K: 600HP? Come on guys, go big or go home. If you can get it over 700, we'll build it.
    SRT Engineers: You serious?
    Tim K: Yup. I want a bad ass name attached to it as well.
     
  9. HCone

    HCone Gold Member

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    Italian/Canadian/Mexican muscle :)
     
  10. Roostking

    Roostking Silver Member

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    Tim Kuniskis: Dodge is mainly a North American company. We do sell internationally. It’s not big numbers. But in certain pockets we’re very strong. If you go to the Middle East, Dodge and SRT are really strong. Really Strong. Right now that’s probably our strongest market outside of NAFTA.



    I am currently working in Bahrain and you see Challengers, Chargers, Camaros from time to time, but what he says is true. I was listing to an English speaking Middle eastern radio show the other day and the DJ's were going back and forth on what type of car they thought the other would be. Right off the bat, one of them said "American Hellcat" and the other DJ said,yes, that is a nice fast car. I was impressed!
     
  11. ChargerChallenger

    ChargerChallenger Gold Member

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    image.jpg image.jpg I am a Mopar loyalist for 40 years and love this article. I can only hope Tim can keep his vision and not let the Fiat Chrysler merger ruin it. I have been concerned since the buy out from Fiat. Sergio Marchionne is already shopping the company. Read the article below.
    Sergio Marchionne continues to preach his message about the need for industry consolidation even as CEOs of competitors reject his call, including General Motors.
    On Saturday, the New York Times reported that Marchionne sent an email to GM CEO Mary Barra in March suggesting that the two companies that a combination of the two automakers could cut billions of dollars in costs. Barra turned down the proposal.

    The hey day of muscle is probably a short run and I know most of you will say I am wrong. But I truly believe the Fiat Union has drained the Dodge Brand bank account. And I have been watching this for the past 3 years as the merger was going back and forth. I have friends as mechanics at Dodge Jeep dealerships and say the new Cherokee built in Italy is terrible. They are replacing motors and transmissions along with Electrical issues. So once again I hope Tim can keep the Muscle alive but I think challenges are ahead for the Dodge brand. I give us a 2-3 year run and it starts to change. So keep your rare muscle car!!!!!
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
  12. Roostking

    Roostking Silver Member

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    I know, WTF is up with this GM merger!!!
     
  13. ChargerChallenger

    ChargerChallenger Gold Member

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    No merger GM is not interested but Marchionne is shopping the company this is the second time I have read a article on him exploring options to finance the company and or get more money.
     
  14. Roostking

    Roostking Silver Member

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    Yea, I know its not happening, but the very fact he looked into is downright scary!
     
  15. TIGwelder

    TIGwelder SSDD

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    "They’ll never sell that many of them, they’ll never be able to built as many as they need for the demand that they’re building for the car.”

    One side of mouth, meet other side of mouth.
    Lying out of one side, truth out of the other as a 'quote'

    The boost in Challenger sales is temporary. The loyal customers your pissing off with the Hellcat mess is permenant. Stop drinking your own kool-aid.

    Tim K said 'blah blah blah media exposure blah blah blah'

    This is looking backwards...not forwards. The free media blitz is done.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2015

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