By on September 21, 2010

As Sajeev points out, America’s police forces could well be the savior of large, rear-drive sedans in the American market. Which is hugely convenient for Chrysler, which recently spent big bucks updating its 300/Charger LX platform. Much to the chagrin of Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, in fact. A devotee of per-platform volume-based “industrial logic,” Marchionne has publicly stated that he would never have spent the money to update a platform with so few “applications,” had he been in charge during the Cerberus era. But winning police fleet business could change all that, and Chrysler is clearly going all out for it.

The 2011 Dodge Charger has not been shown anywhere in civilian guise, but several outlets including the Detroit Free Press have snapped shots of the new sedan testing for police buyers. Given Chrysler’s well-documented struggles with fleet sales addiction, giving police fleet buyers the first look at an “all new” car is an interesting move. Discuss the looks all you want, what I want to know is will consumers go crazy for a cop car? GM obviously doesn’t think so…

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56 Comments on “Hello, Charger...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    If the redesign results in a good vehicle, then it will sell just fine. I don’t think it being a popular police car will affect it.
     
    Being the only under $35K, large, RWD sedan out there (with an available V8 no less) won’t hurt either.
    _______________
    And GM’s strategy with the Zeta and Sigma platforms in North America has been incredibly stupid.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Being a popular taxi cab will probably help sell more of them than being a good cop car. Is it a good cab? Compared to a Hybrid Camry or Escape, I’m guessing not.

    • 0 avatar

      A “good cab” has to go 300k+ miles without costing a fortune to maintain. Somehow I don’t think a hybrid Camry (or at least its battery pack) will really work out so well.

    • 0 avatar
      allythom

      There’s a surprising number of hybrid Escapes, Camrys and even Priuses doing taxi duty here in NYC, as well as lots of hybrid Camrys and Highlanders doing Livery service duty and the odd hybrid police Altima.
      Time will tell if they’re up to it.  I think maybe they are. What they are less likely to be is fixable in 20 minutes in some 24 hour taxi garage if they do break.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Only because NYC requires all new cabs to be hybrids. Its not by operator choice. SFO also requires “green” cabs, but CNG Crown Vics were built by Ford for several years, so those are the main choice there until that fleet wears out.

  • avatar
    Toyondai92

    That rear end is just weird enough to be cool. Any word on which transmission is going in it? I don’t mind the Mercedes units but can’t believe the rumors of Chrysler using the 8speed…

    • 0 avatar
      Bergwerk

      Chrysler’s use of the ZF 8HP is no rumor…
      http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2010/06/chrysler-announces-shift-to-zf-8hp-8speed-automatic-transmission.html
       
      http://www.zf.com/corporate/en/press/press_releases/press_release.jsp?newsId=21750056
       

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    I guess Police use won’t have an affect on private sales.
    Fleet sales to government don’t hurt resale value a lot. Those fleets, unlike rental car companies, keep the cars till they fall apart. Especially Police cars get beaten up and then reused in other municipal uses. Many get so burned out and damaged during Police use that they get scrapped at early age, which is fantastic for the manufacturer (not for the tax payer, though) So, fleet sales won’t impact resale value of 1-3 year old cars.
     
    It is kind of a macho car, which makes it popular for Police, but probably not for many civilians (at least not the ones that likely can afford a new one since when you can afford it, you are married in most cases :)
     
    not sure if cab companies will buy it. they usually buy old 100,000+ miles beaters and drive them to death, or have all-new Hybrid Camrys and Prius. At least here in WI. For a cab a FWD would be better since they accelerate to 30 mph in about 30 seconds … (at least every time I’m in a hurry to catch a flight :) and need to drive in bad weather and need trunk space that gets lost by RWD.

  • avatar
    TokyoPlumber

    No, consumers won’t go crazy for a cop car.  A relatively small number of “Interceptor Enthusiasts” will be drawn to the Charger if it becomes the de facto standard police cruiser.  However, most sales will come from the Bizarro-Camry base (ie, those looking for something distinct, different and American).
     
    The real question is will the cops go crazy for a consumer car.  I suspect they will.

  • avatar
    441Zuke

    the rhinoplasty was a sucess. the retro-rearend works and the NA-tastic interior looks livable. price it right and sucess. if only the magnum would come back
     

  • avatar
    dwford

    Gm has proof that Americans don’t want a “cop” car – witness the fate of the Pontiac G6, while Chrysler has no choice but to offer one since they don’t have another platform option in the near term.

  • avatar
    stationwagon

    I wouldn’t mind owning a base pentastar V6 2011 Charger.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    Looks angry….I like it.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I see they cleaned up the c-pillar, and that rear seat headroom is not a civil right. Not bad overall, though the S13 hatch wants its rear lightbar back.

    • 0 avatar

      That lightbar is actually an old school Charger styling cue which this new Charger is full of inside and out.  No different than the broad shoulders out back, the swooshes in the sides and hood, and the seat and dash design inside.  I’d say Chrysler did a good job fusing new and old into this modern Charger.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      I’d say Chrysler did a good job fusing new and old into this modern Charger.
       
      I agree…they did a fantastic job.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Are we talking about this Charger?
      http://www.tyresmoke.net/albums/album68/charger_rear2.sized.jpg

      I don’t really see any of that in the new one. Compare to the 180SX:
      http://drift.skayltd.jp/files/Sato%20white%20180sx%20rear.JPG

  • avatar

    Looks awesome. Demonstrate that Mopar still has some guts. Is available with a V8 for the cost of a Nissan Leaf. If I had the money I’d be lining up to buy one right now.

  • avatar

    Chrysler has sold a boatload of LX cars since they were introduced 5 years ago.  Over 100k per year at their peak, that’s not a piddling number of units.  Investing in refreshing them and keeping them competitive was a smart move. 

    You can’t toss a rock here without hitting a 300 or Charger.  Even the Magnum was outselling the Escalade and one of the top selling wagons in the US before it was killed under Cerberus mangement.

    They clearly ate Ford’s lunch in the civilian market too.  The 300 and Charger were huge nails in the Crown Vic/Grand Marquis/Town Car coffin.  Effectively replacment them not only with most consumers but also with fleets.  You can’t throw a rock without hitting a Charger police car here too.

    From what I’ve seen Chrysler did a good job refreshing the Charger.  The real treat will be seeing the 300 which they have done a good job keeping under wraps.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Chrysler has sold a boatload of LX cars since they were introduced 5 years ago.

      True, but I remember the row of Sublime Green SRT-8 Chargers at the National lot at the airport in Atlanta a couple years back, and that wasn’t counting the more mundane Chargers in the lot, such as the grey V6 I ended up with.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Yes, it’s a real shame that the killed off the wagon.  My neighbor has one, black with tinted windows and an aftermarket exhaust system that makes me really want to get one, every time I hear him drive down the street.

      Bring back the wagon (I must be really old, I’m remembering the wagon train dog food ads where somebody goes into the kitchen, opens a cupboard, and the wagon train comes out)!

    • 0 avatar
      LXbuilder

      Just happen to work in that plant, and we have built WAY more than 100k of LX cars a year.
      Before the “melt down” we were building @ 1400 a DAY.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Look at TTAC itself on this issue.  The review of the 2008 Pontiac G8 GT on TTAC was blistering – at best, the second look review revised their opinion and by the time Pontiac was dead TTAC had found its love for the G8 GT and was sporting a chubby for the G8 GXP with the manual.
     
    By then it was all too late.  The G8 is gone and a year later used GXP models are selling darn close to what they were sold for, G8 GTs are selling for 24K to 28K depending on condition through dealers across the country, and even lowly V6 base models are selling for $20K.
     
    Yet GM thinks the American buying public doesn’t want a RWD fullsize V8 monster car.  Well America spoke when they could have bought one, and they didn’t.
     
    It is funny this issue has come up. I literally just sat in a 2010 Nissan Altima S.  The interior is a sea of inexpensive black plastic.  The textures on the center console are identical to the textures on the dash of the G8 GT.  IDENTICAL.  Along with the sea of hard plastic.  A loaded up Altima with the 3.5 V6 costs as much as a tarted up V6 G8 did back in the day.  It is a darn fair like to like comparison; and the big Holden sedan stomps the Altima into the ground, cheap plastic and all.
     
    I read post after post here that says, “if GM would just sell it here.”
     
    Ya.  Right.  If Nissan just sold the Skyline here, oh wait, they do.  If Opel just sold the Astra here, oh wait they did, if Honda just sold the Accord here, or wait they do…
     
    If even half of the people who vowed they would have bought a US Skyline went to the Infiniti dealer, the top marque in the luxury segment would be very different, 3-series what???
     
    If even half of the people that said if cars like the Astra were sold here Saturn might still exist as a brand.
     
    The Acura “Accord” is one of the most maligned cars in its segment, nothing more needs to be said.
     
    American buyers will keep eating the same flavorless oatmeal they are fed on a daily basis.  The rest of the world gets better cars they will wail like the Holden Commodore SS-V Series or the European Fiesta (if they just gave us the diesel) and then rave about their Toyota Camry LE or brag about how zippy and nibble their Prius is, which gritching about the ugly in the Acura TSX and wailing, oh if they just gave us the diesel!!!
     
    Bah — I think GM has its right, let ‘em eat cake and give robocop the thunda’ from down unda’

  • avatar
    tedward

    of course cop cars are popular. The Impala never got any respect until police departments started using them (now a dark Impala is a tough guy car). The Charger is lent an air of serious badass by it’s police interceptor duty, same for the Caprice.

  • avatar

    I don’t see Chargers as often as I do Crown Vics (currently the default choice among LEO fleets, while supplies last), but those Chargers do cut a mean figure.  What’s worse is that the Alabama State Troopers (the only ones I’ve seen using Chargers in any sizable quantity) don’t have light bars on top, so if you don’t see the spotlight or push bar (if they have one) in time, you’re screwed.
    On another note, I still see 1994-1996 vintage Chevy Caprices being auctioned off by government entities, usually in running condition and largely equipped with 4.3L and 5.0L V8s.  I haven’t seen a Caprice being used for LEO duties for nearly a decade now.  Where in the world are these things coming from?

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    This car should do fine so long as gas stays priced where it is now or goes lower.  While Panthers sell primarily to older drivers of traditional luxury or near luxury sedans, the Chrysler LX has appealed to a younger demographic.
    There is a certain market for a car of this sort.  With the G8 gone and the panther going away, Chrysler has found itself another niche with no competition.  Like with the Grand Cherokee.  This is an appealing car.  I want one.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It’s not bad looking, but I’m really wishing that the Magnum had lived on so that it could have gotten the refinement it so sorely needed.

  • avatar

    I like the look of the Charger, probably because of the retro look. I live in a (small) city that has a Ford factory (St.Thomas Assembly) so there is a disproportionate number of Fords here. Tons of Mustangs. A few Chargers. Never been up close and personal with one, but my overall memory of Chrysler is one of damn good V8s and super cheap-crap interiors. Don’t imagine the cops are looking for much else as long as they handle OK. I wish them luck.

    • 0 avatar
      TCragg

      Hey, another St. Thomas guy on here!  St. Thomas should actually have a special place of honour during PAW, since this is where most of them were (are) produced.  It’ll be a shame when that plant closes, for reasons of nostalgia, and the fact that this town has already had more than its fair share of bodyblows to its manufacturing base.

    • 0 avatar
      TokyoPlumber

      I lived and worked in St. Thomas for four years after finishing university.  Rolling eastward in to St. Thomas (from the direction of the Ford plant) was always an experience:
      “Ladies and gentlemen if you look to your right you’ll see a huge elephant’s ass.  Now if you continue looking right you’ll see The Nudie Bar … and that’s not just some nudie bar that’s THE Nudie Bar.”
       
      The thing I like most about St. Thomas is that it is a very unpretentious place.  It’s very much like the Crown Victoria in this regard.  It is what it is: unapologetically fit for purpose, but a bit out of step with the times.  The recession, the increase in the value of the Canadian Dollar, and the push to outsource in low cost regions have already greatly affected manufacturing in the city.  Ford has no new platform to replace the Panther; St. Thomas has no new industries to replace manufacturing.  I’m not worried about Ford; I am worried about St. Thomas.

  • avatar
    twotone

    I see quite a few Chargers in deep midnight blue as un-marked cop cars in Denver. Whenever I see one on the highway I make sure to be careful when passing.

    Twotone

  • avatar
    gslippy

    It’s a good move by Chrysler.  I just don’t want to see one in my rear view mirror.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    I have a suspicion that the Caprice will grace the retail market….despite what GM says…
     
    Remember Ford said Volvo was NOT for sale, Ford said the Flex would sell 100K copies a year, Ford said their stake in Mazda was not for sale, Ford said TwinForce would give V8 power with V6 economy (20% better in fact)…ALL of those things were not true.
     
    SO…despite what GM says now…..we could still very well see a retail Caprice…it wasn’t too long ago that images of a Caprice wearing Impala SS badging was floating around the net…

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I think the success of this Charger will have a lot to do with that.
       
      And, I would be thrilled with a retail Caprice or Zeta-Impala, but I’d be mouth-foaming ecstatic to see the Park Avenue.

      IMO, the LWB Zeta was born to wear the trishield, while the SWB version works better as a Chevy.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      I don’t see how it makes any sense for GM to market a police car only vehicle in the US. Perhaps there is something GM management knows which I’m blind to, but it sure is hard to imagine how this plays out well for GM or for police fleets. For starters, what police department wants to buy into a platform with next to no aftermarket parts support? The aftermarket isn’t going to be in any hurry to develop replacement parts for such a limited volume vehicle.
       
       

    • 0 avatar

      If the police are the only ones using this model, wouldn’t that make it hard to blend in with their ‘unmarked’ or ‘ghost’ cars.

      See a Caprice, any colour, it’s a cop. That wouldn’t be any fun for them.

  • avatar
    obbop

    The local county sheriff department (like, the fuzz, man) uses those Chargers. Painted silver.
    I refrain from running into them even though the cop’s driving skills are not all that professional in my civilianesque opinion.
    They also like to regularly exceed the posted limited sans emergency lights and/or siren.
    They seem to be in a hurry to get nowhere fast but that is the general tendency of the local populace, even when the stop light ahead is red and I coast to a stop but can often achieve a soulful satisfaction to see that red light turn to green allowing me to avoid a full stop and resume speed and pass through the ex-red now-green light at the posted speed limit while observing the vast majority of dunsels who had passed me in their constant rush rush rush in a headlong manner have to accelerate from their required but unnecessary total stop and continuously repeating the same maneuver, endlessly, either not caring about the negatives of that driving style or unable to visualize the benefits of driving in a different style more conducive to vehicle longevity, reduced vehicle operating costs and less stress upon the driver.
    Oh such a pain to be immersed among bird brains when soaring with raptors would be so much preferable.

  • avatar
    Slowtege

    That is a goooood looking car. Nice and murderous, and that’s sans SRT8 trim. This is a good sign. The ’06-era SRT8s looked massively aggressive, which suits it perfectly. Glad they started from that point here. The back end looks great, love the tapering cabin to reveal those massive haunches–in general the refinements to it really paid off. It’s a big step away from the small radii super busy ugly chiseled designs (Journey, Caravan, Caliber, Magnum, Avenger, Charger to an extent, last gen Ram refresh, etc), which always looked cheap, unrefined, and unattractive.

    There were a few State Police Chargers in southern Oregon when I’d drive home from LA to Portland in between semesters. Dark blue, very serious looking. At least motorists are somewhat ready for that instead of being taken down by a completely unmarked red 05-09 Mustang GT undercover car.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    ” … will consumers go crazy for a cop car?”
    As others have said, selling a version of a car to police forces does not in any way detract from the saleability of civilian versions of the same platform.  Just look at what happens in other countries. In German, for example, BMWs are the most common police cars ( http://www.hendonpub.com/resources/articlearchive/details.aspx?ID=206921 ). This has done nothing to detract from the desirability of BMWs to German motorists. Likewise in the UK, a range of lightly modified passenger cars from the likes of Volvo. BMWs, Fords and so on ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_vehicles_in_the_United_Kingdom ).
    When you get right down to it, consumers generally don’t care about whether or not a given vehicle platform is also used to build a “cop car”. Ford’s Panther platform died off with consumers not because of its extended sunset years in cop and taxi duty, but because for most consumers it is far from being the best vehicle choice for them. Police and taxi services kept buying them as much out of habit and inertia as they did for any other reason.
    Chrysler is smart to try and recoup some of the investment in their large RWD platform by getting some of the police car business, which has absolutely nothing to do with how successfully (or not) Chrysler sells ‘em to regular folks.
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      BMW are only used as cop cars in Bavaria, where they are built. they also use Audi (Ingolstadt is in Bavaria too). All other states use whatever they produce (VW, Opel etc.)

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      And Flint used to use Buick’s as cop cars, and Pontiac Michigan used Pontiacs ect… There used to be more local pride in what the fuzz drove. That’s not possible anymore, for most cities.

  • avatar
    geeber

    I always thought that there was something a little “off” with the Charger, but this new one looks great. This is an excellent update of the former car. I’m tempted to seriously consider one, and I’ve never owned a Chrysler product before. I wonder if the Chrysler 300 update will be as successful.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    Am I the only one getting an NSX vibe off of the tail light?

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    I like it – a lot – but that grille is hideous.  Doesn’t belong on a car.

  • avatar

    There was a police chase on the news this morning in Miami.  The suspect was being chased by a few Dodge Chargers which pit maneuvered him with the quickness.  Watching the video there’s no question they accelerate much faster than the old Crown Victoria.  A little more good exposure for Chrysler doesn’t hurt.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    The police Charger won’t hurt sales of the SRT8 models, but if retail Charger sales lag, Chrysler can always put the Coronet nameplate on it and make believe it’s a different mid-size car.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Awesome. This is what they should have done the first time. In any case, I hope it’s successful.
    Yeah, I’d buy that thing.


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