DETROIT -Before it settled on 'Quad Cab,' Dodge considered calling its new Dakota four-door pickup truck a 'Family Cab.'
With its full-sized rear doors, the Dakota Quad Cab offers room for up to six people, so it could carry a family.
But in focus groups, hard-core truck buyers turned up their noses at driving anything called Family Cab, said Mike Gialdini, senior manager of Dodge truck marketing plans.
Dodge did not want to alienate its Dakota compact pickup truck customers, so it went with Quad Cab.
The division believes its 2000 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab will satisfy both the traditional truck buyer and an emerging buyer who has shied away from pickups because they do not have enough cab room.
'Our target audience is those who say, `I've always wanted a pickup truck, but I want to take the family,' ' Gialdini said. 'It's also those who own a truck but now need more cab space.'
A PICKUP FIRST
Jim Julow, head of Dodge Division, said the Quad Cab's attraction is its versatility.
'It is first and foremost a pickup truck,' Julow said. 'It can be a sport-utility, a sedan, a work pickup truck, a play truck, a family truck or whatever.'
The new Quad Cab joins a Dakota lineup that includes the regular cab, club cab, and R/T models.
Dodge also offers a Dodge Ram Quad Cab model. But the rear doors on the full-sized Ram Quad Cab are hinged on the C pillar and swing out rearward. The rear doors on the Dakota Quad Cab are hinged on the B pillar and open like a normal door.
Dodge believes Quad Cab buyers will come from buyers of regular cab pickups, 15 percent; club cab pickups (rear seat but no rear doors), 20 percent; cars and minivans, 30 percent; and other segments, 35 percent.
More than 70 percent of all Dakotas sold today are club cab models.
In developing the Quad Cab, Dodge considered both 6-foot-6-inch and 5-foot-3-inch beds. Dodge chose to go with the shorter bed because the vehicle would fit in a typical garage.
The Dakota Quad Cab will be about $1,500 more than a Dakota Club Cab, $3,000 less than a Ram Quad Cab, and $6,000 less than a Dodge Durango sport-utility.
The front-wheel-drive model starts at $19,490, including the $520 destination charge, and the four-wheel-drive model starts at $22,135, including destination.
Dodge does not expect the Dakota Quad Cab to hurt Durango sales. The Durango has a third row of seats, giving it the capability to hold up to eight passengers.
Automakers are pushing to blend pickup utility with carlike amenities, said Jeffery Schuster, manager of forecasting and product planning for J.D. Power and Associates.
'What we're starting to see is a barrage of what we're calling sport-utility pickups,' Schuster said. 'These vehicles are more of a combination of SUVs and trucks.'
The Dakota Quad Cab will face competition from the existing Nissan Frontier King Cab and Ford's Explorer Sport Trac, due in January, he said. Within the next year, other automakers, including General Motors, also will enter the niche.
BOWL GAME ADS
TV advertising spots for the Dakota Quad Cab will break nationally on late December college football bowl games.
Print ads will appear in December as part of the overall 'Dodge. Different' brand effort launched for the 2000 model year via BBDO Worldwide of Southfield, Mich.
Spots will show the capabilities of the vehicle, with one showing what owners might put inside and outside of the cab, said Richard Johnson, chief creative officer for the BBDO office. The full-sized doors and cab will be emphasized.
'The positioning is that this is a truck given four doors, not an SUV given a bed,' he said.
Dodge wouldn't disclose projected ad spending for the campaign. It spent $602 million in measured media last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Advertising Age contributed to this report.