Dodge may have stunned the automotive world with all the facts and figures related to its new New York Auto Show's press days. And while we still have no idea what the Demon will cost, we do have a good idea of when we'll know more, as well as how and where you'll be able to buy it., but there's a big mystery number that will be key to its marketplace performance: Price. At the street/strip star's Tuesday night unveil, there was no mention of cost of entry, and officials have remained mum on pricing throughout the
In my Wednesday interview with Tim Kuniskis, Dodge's head of passenger car brands, shed some light on when the company will divulge the car's asking price: "I think probably in about two months. Our goal is by June to have the distribution system out -- how we're going to allocate the vehicles to the dealers, and the pricing, all at the same time."
Just 3,300 units are planned for the Demon's one-year production run, with 3,000 units coming to the US and 300 earmarked for Canada. As such, there's likely to be a long line of reservations for a relatively small amount of vehicles at Dodge/SRT dealers. That said, unlike many other specialty or high-end models that are only available through participating certified dealerships, the automaker has no plans to limit where the car is available. "It's a Dodge vehicle, it's eligible for sale at a Dodge dealership. There won't be any sort of special program or anything like that," said Kuniskis.
Kuniskis notes Dodge has no plans to sell the Demon anywhere outside of US and Canada. "We don't have it certified for any of those markets," he said. That makes sense, given that drag racing -- this car's raison d'être -- is primarily an American pastime. That said, the Demon's overwhelming response in the global news cycle may have taken Fiat-Chrysler aback, and I told Kuniskis it wouldn't surprise me to hear that there's interest in the Middle East or UK for this car.
Kuniskis laughed, and then relayed a story to me about how a Frenchman came up to him earlier in the day and told him, "'The people in France don't know anything about Dodge, they're not familiar with anything about the Dodge brand. Except this Demon is all over the news in France.'" He paused a moment before saying, "That's really interesting. So I don't know, we may have some people asking." He then went on to note that there were indeed viewing parties for the Demon's online unveil all over the world, including in Europe and the Middle East.
And what about the possibility of dealership price gouging? Kuniskis says, "That comes up a lot, and what I tell people all the time is that our dealers are our partners... they are phenomenal business partners with us. I have no control over the franchise agreements, and that's why there's a Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price [MSRP]. We spend a lot of time -- and for a good reason -- talking about this tenth of a percent of the cars that get marked up over sticker, and we never talk about the 99-point-9 percent that they sell under sticker, and nobody seems to complain about that. So, it's going to be what the market demand is."
That's not to say Dodge won't try to keep dealers from jacking up Demon prices. Kuniskis: "Now, we have some things in place that probably make that a little more difficult. Every car is serialized. Every car has the customer's name on the [optional Demon] Box and on the air vent. Pure speculators that are willing to pay significantly over MSRP, they're of course going to want their name on their box and on their dash. So if a dealer were to order that vehicle in advance with a generic name, we're not going to allow them to change the plate on the box or on the air vent at a later date. Whatever they put on there, they put on there. So if they order a generic [plate] as an 'XYZ Name' on the dash, and a customer comes in and says 'I'm willing to pay X number of thousands of dollars over," and says, 'Give me a replacement plate,' [it's] not available."
As for ballparking what Dodge will actually ask for the Demon, Kuniskis remains coy. For reference, today's 707-horsepower 2017 Challenger SRT Hellcat starts at $64,195, and last I checked, the company's not-street-legal Challenger Drag Pak competition car starts at around $100,000 for the naturally aspirated 426 Hemi model. My best guess is that pricing will fall somewhere between those numbers.
Having said that, if you're seriously interested in putting a Demon in your driveway, it's probably best to ring your local dealer now and be prepared to write a fat deposit check.
New York auto show 2018
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