Gilles: More frequent styling changes for Chrysler
Ralph Gilles: “In some cases they acted like brand-new cars with a fraction of the investment."
Photo credit: GLENN TRIEST
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NEW YORK -- Chrysler Group vehicles will have more frequent styling changes in an effort to boost sales.
Ralph Gilles, head of design at Chrysler Group and president of Dodge brand, said mid-cycle freshenings in general will be more substantial.
"We learned a lot from what we did with 16 products. Many of those were heavy, heavy refreshes, and it actually has done miracles," Gilles, who was interviewed at the New York auto show, said of Chrysler's recent product changes.
"In some cases they acted like brand-new cars with a fraction of the investment," he said.
The Chrysler 200 is probably the best example of that strategy, Gilles said.
For 2011 model year the Chrysler Sebring was renamed the 200 and the car was refined in areas such as ride, handling and interior noise. At the same time, the interior was redesigned to create a more premium appearance, and the front and rear sheet was replaced.
By contrast, the sheet metal was not changed on the Dodge Avenger and Dodge Journey. Each received a minor facelift and upgraded interiors.
Chrysler sold 9,880 200s in the first quarter. Dealers started receiving cars in January.
Said Gilles: "So that is something that we have to look at carefully: Do you do light cosmetics or heavy cosmetics? Going forward it will be a case-by-case basis.''