The automotive world has gone horsepower mad in recent weeks, since Dodge launched the 707 HP Hellcat version of the built-in-Ontario Challenger.
So much so that in a press conference on Wednesday morning, Dodge president and CEO Tim Kuniskis joked that company PR staff had said that 10 per cent of the Internet has been devoted to Hellcat.
The joke is based on truth, however, as web searches for details about the car and smoky burnout videos have driven Dodge to be the No. 1 automotive brand searched on Google last month, a first for the brand.
Known as the birthplace of muscle cars and street racing in the ’60s, Detroit’s Woodward Ave. was an appropriate setting for Dodge to unveil their next halo car, the 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat.
Like mad scientists, the power-hungry team at Dodge has taken the same Hellcat 6.2L, supercharged V8 that is found in the Challenger Hellcat and shoehorned it under the hood of their newly redesigned family car.
Before the cover came off, Kuniskis told the media that, “This is a car that most car brands would never bring to market,” adding that it was a car without a business case and that sometimes you need to “build a car that defines itself.”
Calling the Charger Hellcat the “most powerful sedan in the world,” the executive went on to lay out some mind-boggling performance statistics, starting with 204 mph.
That is old school muscle car speak for 326 km/h, which is faster than the Challenger — thanks to the sedan being 12 per cent more efficient aerodynamically than the coupe.
The other pertinent numbers are equally staggering for a four-door sedan shod with street tires and straight off the showroom floor: 11.0 seconds for the quarter mile; 3.7 seconds from rest to 96 km/h.
These are numbers that would even make the legendary winged Dodge Daytona blush.
Charger Hellcat will only be available with rear-wheel drive mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, meaning that those who wish to shift manually will have to select a Challenger.
When the Challenger Hellcat was launched, someone started a rumour that there would only be 1,200 copies built. Kuniskis was quick to point out that this was never the case, nor is it the case for Charger Hellcat.
They will build whatever the market demands.
When asked what other Dodge models might be in line to receive the Hellcat engine, Kuniskis stayed mum beyond saying that a Hellcat-powered Dart was not an option.
Pricing has yet to be announced for the car, which will be on showroom floors some time in the first quarter of 2015.
U.S. study shows Millennials don’t use social media to shop
If ever there was a group that has stymied automotive marketers, it is the so-called Millennials, or Generation Y. Considered to be born roughly from 1980 to 2000, Millennials have bucked the trend of living in the suburbs, instead returning to live in urban centres where they can walk or take public transit to wherever they have to go.
Add in challenges of finding and paying for parking downtown and many consumers in this segment have little interest in owning a car.
Generation Y has also grown up in a world that is connected to information in a way that none before has experienced. Traditionally, automotive marketing endeavours have focused on newspaper or television ads, but younger consumers are becoming increasingly less likely to read a newspaper or watch TV.
Why? Because they have everything they need in the palm of their hand, by way of the smartphone.
A recent study by AutoTrader.com in the United States brings up some interesting insights.
In the third annual buyer influence study, it was shown that 95 per cent of young consumers research a new car purchase online rather than by visiting a dealership to educate themselves.
Fifty per cent of those use their smartphone over a stationary computer to access more than 10 car-buying websites before deciding which vehicle to purchase.
Interestingly, sites they are not visiting to research are social media portals such as Facebook or Twitter.
Autoshare expands presence and selection in Toronto
Living in Durham Region, I am not often exposed to car-sharing services in my daily travels, but over the weekend I had the chance to spend some time in Liberty Village and was surprised by just how many options there are for those who don’t own a car to get around for an hour or two at a time.
It seems like car-sharing services have made it quite easy for city dwellers, presumably many being Millennials, to access wheels without owning a car.
Traditional single-day car rentals have become quite expensive over the years, especially once insurance rates are factored in.
Autoshare, a division of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, recently upped their fleet to include a variety of vehicles beyond the typical subcompacts that car-share services typically offer. Pricing for these vehicles starts at $8.25 per hour.
To date, 13,000 Toronto residents have become Autoshare members.
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