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Chrysler Unveils Five Special Editions At Detroit Athletic Club

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By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

Detroit March 21, 2013; President and CEO of the Chrysler brand, Saad Chehab, a Detroit native, presented some fabulous cars to the assembled Automotive Press Association in downtown Detroit today. Talking about the resurgent company’s impressive sales gains of the past couple of years and the drastic restructuring of their marketing strategies he introduced a plethora of new models, though none were entirely new cars, just special editions of existing models.

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Poised in front of the historic Detroit Athletic Club where the press conference took place we found the newest of the new, a striking white 2013.5 (interesting year designation) Chrysler 200 S Special Edition designed in consultation with the respected maker of work clothing Carhartt. This Carhartt Edition is powered by the 285 horsepower Pentastar V-6, and features 18-inch aluminum wheels, a water-resistant seat fabric with Carhartt’s signature triple stitching, special front and rear fascia, dual exhaust outlets integrated into the fascia and a variety of other trim and performance elements. We’ll see the formal introduction of this Special Edition at the upcoming New York Auto Show. Only 2,000 will be produced at just under 29 grand a pop.

While Carhartt lent their name and image to Chrysler the arrangement is reversed. Carhartt features a line of Chrysler-inspired “Imported from Detroit” clothing as well.

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Expanding the Detroit-centric marketing theme Chrysler will soon present a “Motown Edition” of the 300 that celebrates the iconic music that was born here. Chehab explained that while “cars are the heart of Detroit, music is its soul.” While the 300 has been a popular starting point for lots of wild and crazy hip-hop customizations this version appears a bit more sedate but still cool. This special car will also feature the sweet Pentastar V-6 with XF eight-speed automatic transmission.

You’ll see a brilliant ad for the Motown Edition soon and the car will be available this spring priced at just 33 grand. The ad features Barry Gordy himself and clips of Stevie Wonder, Smoky Robinson, the Supremes and the Temptations. As the add finishes the car pulls up in front of New York’s Lunt Theater’s marquee touting “Motown: The Musical” starting soon.

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Next on the agenda we saw the 300 “John Vervatos Edition” (famous New York designer with roots in Detroit) that Chehab insists will be a future collectable car. The special leather interior imitates the designer’s zippered leather jacket along with a variety of other trim features. It will sell for nearly 44 grand with a special lease rate of $379/mo.

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For the northern climates Chrysler has the “Glacier Edition” celebrating snow boarding. This one, as you may surmise, includes all-wheel drive. Giving it a hint of chill much of the trim is body colored. Though the outer colors are mostly shades of white the interiors are exclusively black with denim-like seats.

Finally, the popular Chrysler Town & Country minivan get’s an “S” version with black grille, 17-inch gloss wheels and special trim. The Town & Country, by the way, earned the R.L. Polk Loyalty Award for the 12th year is a row this year.

Lest we think the Chrysler 300 is relevant only here in the U.S. we’re reminded that a Lancia version is sold in Europe. In spite of serious challenges on that side of the pond – onerous taxation of cars with over 3.0-litre displacement, intense competition with traditional German luxury cars and a dismal European economy - they are pleased with the sales so far.

So, essentially Chrysler is leveraging the cool and competent vehicles they have now by producing themed versions that will appeal to a variety of audiences. That minimizes development costs while maximizing exposure to new customers.

Good job, Chrysler!

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved