The company that invented the modern incentive with its “Buy a Car, Get a Check” campaign nearly four decades ago is offering a new twist to the art of the deal.
As part of its “Dodge Power Dollars” campaign, Fiat Chrysler’s muscle car brand is offering a cash allowance based on the horsepower of its products. Buy a 292 hp Dodge Charger SXT and you’ll get a $2,920 discount. The new, 797-hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye, meanwhile, comes with a $7,970 cash incentive. The $10/hp equation also covers the Dodge Durango SUV.
“Dodge has more horsepower than anyone else, and we want to share it and give those who have always wanted more the ability to get more,” said Tim Kuniskis who, among the many hats he wears, oversees Dodge and other passenger car sales in North America.
By the company’s own estimate it has “put 485 million horsepower into the hands of our loyal enthusiasts” since the Charger and Challenger were brought back to market, the sedan for the 2006 model-year, the coupe two years later.
Since then, Dodge has continued to pump them up with a stream of newer and more powerful packages. That hit a record for a U.S. factory-built V-8 two years ago with the 840 hp Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon. It was a limited-run model that, while street-legal, was really designed for dragstrip use. This year’s follow-up, the Redeye coupe, “only” makes 797 hp but remains king-of-the-hill in the classic muscle car category. Ford will move a bit closer with the launch of the Shelby GT 500, but still falls short, at 760 hp.
The new incentive campaign will cover all versions of the 2019 Dodge Challenger, Charger and Durango models and, said Kuniskis, “The goal is to grow to a half-billion horsepower before the end of the year.”
The Dodge brand, on the whole, has been struggling this year, with sales for the first six months of 2019 down 9 percent. The Challenger itself is off by 23%, with demand dropping to 28,668 during that period.
But the Charger is up 9%, defying the broader slump in sales of sedans in the U.S. market. Its numbers for June, in fact, were their strongest in a dozen year. As for Durango, partly buoyed by the broader shift to SUVs, it gained 13% year-over-year for the first half of 2019.
The Dodge Power Dollars campaign launched today. The deal — which only covers 2019 models — is expected to run through the end of the year but a spokesman said that could depend on customer response.
While automakers have offered discounts to move metal almost from the day the industry debuted, what was then the Chrysler Corp. is generally credited with launching the modern era of incentives as it struggled to head off bankruptcy under its then-new Chairman and CEO Lee Iacocca four decades ago.
The theme, “Buy a Car, Get a Check,” was endlessly repeated in print and broadcast by pitchmen including former sportscaster Joe Garagiola. Iacocca, who passed away last month, also became a familiar face for the company’s marketing efforts, those his most familiar tagline was, “If you can find a better car, buy it.”