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Chrysler: Frequent Design Changes Key To Sales Growth

2011 Chrysler 200 S

2011 Chrysler 200 S

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If you're shopping for a new car and have a preference for Chrysler Group products, expect to see frequent model updates from Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep in the coming years. Ralph Gilles, head of design at Chrysler (and president & CEO of Dodge) believes that frequent styling changes may be the key to sales growth.

Going forward, Gilles expects Chrysler to have even more frequent design tweaks and updates, emphasizing more substantial mid-cycle product redesigns. Citing recent experience with cars like the 2011 Chrysler 200, Automotive News quotes Gilles as saying, “In some cases they acted like brand-new cars with a fraction of the investment.”

The Chrysler 200 had previously been called the Chrysler Sebring, a name consumers associated more with rental cars than with desirable mid-size sedans and convertibles. Thanks to an exterior freshening, suspension improvements, a new interior and a Super Bowl ad campaign featuring Eminem, Chrysler has seen sales performance from the 200 in the first quarter rivaling that of a new car launch.

Citing his experience throughout the Chrysler and Dodge product lines, Gilles went on to say, “We learned a lot from what we did with 16 products. Many of those were heavy, heavy refreshes, and it actually has done miracles.” You can see evidence of this in other Chrysler Group products, such as the newly refined interior in the 2011 Dodge Journey, or the new exterior styling of the 2011 Chrysler 300 and the 2011 Dodge Charger.


(Automotive News)

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Comments (8)
  1. Wasn't this strategy used up until the Seventies? It's a great idea. Who wants to look at the same old design for up to eight years? (Except for the classic Jeep Grand Wagoneer - they could still be building those babies!)

  2. Cosmo, you're absolutely correct - that philosophy drove the US auto industry for a lot of years. Also correct on the Jeep Grand Wagoneer - I just saw a low mileage '87 listed for "only" $28k.

  3. I grew up in the 50s and 60s and I remember how exciting it was each new car model year when every car was refreshed, at a minimum. If a company budgets in frequent changes winners could get mild tweeks and losers major overhalls so companies don't have to live with a mistake. My friend, an import buyer for years, just bought a Journey. That refreshed interior and the Pentastar V-6 sold him to buy American. Makes sense Ralph.

  4. Bill, I was turning wrenches in the family garage during the late 70s and early 80s. By then, car styling had taken a turn for the worse, but we still had enough customers with classics from the 50s and 60s that I became fairly proficient at recognizing year, make and model.
    I'm glad to see the direction that Gilles is taking both Chrysler and Dodge, and I'd expect good things from them in the coming years.

  5. Hey, it isn't about changing things every two years to pump sales. It is about giving consumers the quality that they deserve out of the gate that keeps them coming back too. For instance, the PT Cruiser, a modern classic, would still be a hot item if you could have maintained the GT turbo engine option; given it an option of that fuel efficient turbodiesel engine that was built here, but sold in overseas markets; and given it the option of the all wheel drive system that was available in the Dodge Caliber, Dodge Journey, and Jeep Patriot. Plus, the Chrysler 300 should have had and should have now the option of the Mercedes V-6 Bluetec turbodiesel engine, along with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

  6. Mr. D, I had a chance to speak with Ralph Gilles at a media event a few months back, and I really did get the feeling that there's a renewed sense of pride at Chrysler Group, LLC these days. I suspect life under Italian rule is much better than life under German rule, and I really do believe that Chrysler will continue to improve their product offerings.

  7. Just for accuracy: Fiat is not a majority owner of Chrysler. Originally Chrysler/Daimler was touted as a "marriage of equals". Then the deceptive Daimler pushed into boss status, which didn't work well. This time around is not the same. Fiat is not boss, but a business partner.

  8. Let's just hope we see more interesting (and distinctly American)designs from the Big 3 (are they still big??)rather than re-hashed Japanese or European styling - which don't appeal to import buyers or loyal Americans. American cars used to lead the way, with confident, unique styling. That confidence is still there in some offerings (and many Trucks/SUVs) but let's see a return to original designs with some "wow" factor for the passenger car ranges.

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