Arrigo Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep in West Palm Beach, Fla., sold its first four Dodge Caliber hatchbacks in two days. And as a dealer who sold 6,058 new units last year, Jim Arrigo has a prediction:
The Caliber will appeal to a broader buyer base than the 24- to 34-year-olds Dodge is targeting.
He says his first four buyers were a 30-year-old man, a thirtysomething couple, a 50-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman.
"The car is going to go all the way across the board" in age range, Arrigo says.
The Caliber is reaching dealer lots this month. Although it is still early in the Caliber's launch, other dealers agree with Arrigo. The hatchback's interior features, starting price, fuel efficiency rating and standard side airbags appeal to a cross section of buyers, dealers say.
Early buyer data also show that the Caliber is appealing more to older buyers than its predecessor, the Dodge Neon.
Thirty-one percent of Caliber buyers from March 1 through March 12 were 16 to 35 years old, according to Power Information Network research. That compares with 35 percent for the Neon during the same period.
Twenty-five percent of Caliber buyers were 56 or older, according to the PIN data. That compares with 17 percent for Neon. The data excludes the Neon SRT-4.
The data also show that the Caliber's transaction price outpaces the Neon's. The average Caliber transaction price during the sample period was $17,138, PIN says. The Neon averaged $12,868.
Dodge is gearing its marketing to a young buyer. And the car is outfitted with what Dodge considers features aimed at the youth market: a refrigerated glove box for drinks, a lighted cupholder, fold-down rear speakers for tailgating and a removable flashlight.
Dodge has 20,000 dealer orders for the Caliber, says Kevin McCormick, company spokesman. The base price is $13,985, including shipping. The Caliber carries a $500 customer cash rebate.
Steve Osbourne, sales manager at Waldorf Dodge in Waldorf, Md., says the store has sold nine Calibers.
"It's mostly middle-aged husbands and wives looking for fuel-economy transportation," Osbourne says. "It's going to be super for us."
What is it about the Caliber that closes the deal? "Price range. A four-door car. Fuel economy. Small engine. Good insurance rating," Osbourne says.
Bob Groendaal is the assistant general sales manager at Gary Miller Dodge, a small store in Erie, Pa. "We have ordered all that is available to us, six to eight (units)," Groendaal says. "We got in two and sold two in the past week."
The customers? One twentysomething couple. And one middle-aged couple.
Andy Palmen, chairman of the Dodge National Dealer Council, says the Caliber is attracting a range of buyers at Palmen Motors in Kenosha, Wis. Says Palmen: "The demographics are all over the board."
You may e-mail Mary Connelly at [email protected]