Dodge Revamps and Renames its Option Packages to Attract Younger Buyers

With no new products in its pipeline, Dodge is turning to special equipment packages to lay the groundwork for reinventing the brand. New products are planned for the 2011 model-year.

Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles said, “This is just the beginning. What you are seeing here is the strategy which will gain momentum with the ’11 model year.”

In addition to the new special equipment packages, Dodge is also expanding its standard-equipment offerings. In some cases, the new features will result in price increases, but in others the base price is expected to remain the same.

The move appears to be primarily focused on the SUV segment which has suffered in recent months as consumers have shown a preference for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

One example is the 2010 Dodge Nitro SUV. The automaker has increased the base sticker price for the two-wheel-drive model by $1,660 to $23,995. The increase in price, according to Dodge spokesman Jiyan Cadiz, includes $3,500 in additional standard equipment which includes a 4.0-liter V-6 engine. The expanded standard-features package Nitros will be available in approximately six weeks.

Another example is the Dodge Journey mid-size SUV which had a base sticker price of $21,165 including shipping costs. Dodge has reduced the sticker price by $170 and added about $1,100 in additional standard equipment. The new standard equipment includes cruise control and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Dodge expects the expanded standard-package Journeys will be available in about six weeks.

Since coming under the control of Italian automaker, Fiat SpA, the product lineup for the new Dodge includes only cars, SUVs and crossover models and has also made significant shifts in Dodge’s advertising in hopes of attracting younger consumers and increasing sales of its lower priced models.

Dodge has also renamed its option packages and trim designations. Option packages are no longer designated by a letter, such as K or L, but have been given names that reflect the personality of the features included in the packages. The new option package names include Crew, Hero, Express and Uptown and others. Dodge has also eliminated the SE and SLT trim designations.

The new naming strategy will be implemented across Dodge’s entire 2010 model line over the next several months.

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