US: demand for Hellcats propels Dodge’s brand image image

The brand was not ready for the kind of attention and sales demand it has received after introducing the new 707-horsepower SRT Hellcat models. The popularity of the models is so big that all 2015 model year versions are spoken for.

With dealers now already ordering the 2016 models, the popularity of the Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats – called after the supercharged Hemi engine – has lots of people not only talk about the high-performance muscle cars but also about the brand itself. They speak of the cars, buy related merchandise and attend Dodge events all over the US – last week’s Woodward Dream Cruise related events attracted more than 40,000 people. “It’s an absolute milestone of Dodge history,” comments Dodge and SRT President and chief executive officer Tim Kuniskis. The storng demand triggered months-long waiting lists and even dealers wreaking havoc – they took deposits without telling customers they could actually have an unfilled order. Under a new system, Dodge is now accepting orders for the 2016 model year cars and the company is doubling the production of Hellcat models.

With production levels rumored to be well below 10,000 units for the 2015 model year, the Hellcats are not delivery champions, but the impact brought by the vehicles has been tremendous for the brand. “Hellcat is part of a broader brand strategy that I think is working pretty well for Dodge,” comments Lincoln Merrihew, senior vice president of research firm Millward Brown Digital. “Even if they’re breaking even on that car, you talk about the notoriety it has, the brand awareness and the attention it’s getting. It’s paid for itself already.”