The Wall Street Journal
November 27, 2012
Pruitt Chamness was visiting a Chrysler dealer when the 27-year-old Rhode Islander spotted an unusual Jeep Grand Cherokee with 20-inch black rims, a blacked-out grille and a steel-gray paint job.
It "just grabbed me," said Mr. Chamness, a data-storage salesman. "I literally didn't look at another car."
He sold his 2008 Saturn and leased the about $36,000 Altitude in September.
Chrysler Group LLC is producing more special-edition vehicles and versions of existing car and truck models that target select buyers.
One of its better-known creations is the "man van"—a version of its Dodge Grand Caravan tailored for dads who prefer sports cars but have to drive minivans to haul kids and gear.
Auto makers produce such special editions to generate buzz, command higher prices than basic models and hook customers, like Mr. Chamness, who wouldn't normally consider buying their vehicles.
Few employ the marketing tactic as extensively as Chrysler. Several of its creations will be on display this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Chrysler plans to unveil a sportier version of its Town & Country minivan, with a black-chrome grille and 3.6-liter, V-6 engine and a Dodge Charger Daytona edition.
Down the road is an "8 Mile" edition of the Chrysler 200 designed with Detroit rapper Eminem, and two new special-edition Ram 1500s, the Warlock and Lil' Red Express, both of them throwbacks to similar versions from the 1970s, according to dealers briefed on the plan.
These come on top of the 2013 Chrysler 300 Glacier, an all-wheel-drive sedan with blue pearl, white or silver paint and seats in ballistic nylon, a tough, durable fabric used for boots and watchbands. The target consumer: urbanites who value fashion but also cherish the outdoors.
Too many variations can overload dealers, and some editions don't always connect.
"The execution is critical, so the dealer doesn't end up having too much inventory or have it at the expense of [cars] they can sell," said John Firth, a retailing expert with Urban Science in Detroit.
Auto makers have long offered Texas Edition pickups and Eddie Bauer SUVs, but more are moving away as they try to scale back on costs and complexity by streamlining their lineups.