When I first heard of Chrysler’s purchase by Fiat my mind was filled with all sorts of meep meep images of sporty small cars darting around American highways – fun to drive and helping the planet. I loved it and it was just what the country needed. A year and change later, the Fiat 500 was introduced. Zoooop. (The sound of disappointment.) Como se ugly? Como se out-of-touch? Add to that, J-Lo doing a 2006 shimmy on a street in NY and I felt even more let down.
Then I saw an Owen Mack video of Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of Dodge, next to the amazing new Challenger and I was back on board. This muscle car, not what I had in mind for the combined company, reminded me that car design is still key.
Yesterday I got my first look at the new Dodge Dart. Reported to be around 40 MPG, this baby is fine. It’s a mid-size car with style, selling for around $16,000. My daughter bought a used Honda Civic a year ago for the same price.
The jury is still out on quality, but the jury is back on design and mileage. It’s the American way to fail a little bit before you hit big — and the Fiat 500 misstep will teach Chrysler/Fiat how we roll. And now Chrysler/Fiat is about to America how it rolls. I smell am Harvard Business Review business case. Peace!