The naked truth: New car unveilings resemble a burlesque show

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DETROIT -- The annual automotive version of burlesque is back, online, and the only thing missing is the thick horn section from the chart-topping 1962 hit, "The Stripper." As it did last week, Dodge today released a titillating peek at its new Dodge Dart subcompact -- this time showing portions of the car's interior. Last week it revealed online teases of the 2013 model's headlights and flashy LED-packed rear end, as well as its name.

Dodge and Chrysler Group certainly aren't the only automakers to adopt this "slow-reveal" marketing strategy. It has been a popular -- and incredibly cheap, smart, and effective -- way to generate buzz for upcoming models and earn tons of free publicity media as auto sites clamor for the latest-and-greatest images to drive their own online traffic.

Everybody does it. From Lexus to Smart, and all automakers in between. Bentley has even teased the sound of its new engine in recent days.


But after weeks and weeks of sneaking a peek at a portion of front fascia, or a brightly colored brake caliper hidden behind an immodestly exposed wheel, the whole process starts to feel sort of sordid, no matter who's playing the dance music.

The Dart and several other slowly teased automobiles won't be revealed to the public until the Detroit auto show starts next month.

At this pace, there might not be much left to the public's imagination by the time the show arrives. But maybe that's the point in the first place.

You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at lvellequette@crain.com.

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