Strakes are breaking out all over at Chrysler these days.
So what are strakes? They're those grooves that run lengthwise on the hoods of two new Chrysler vehicles introduced last week in California: the Chrysler Sebring sedan and Aspen SUV.
The strake, an idea borrowed from boat builders, first appeared on the Chrysler Crossfire concept that debuted at the Detroit auto show in 2001 and the production car that followed. They also showed up on the Firepower concept.
"They were very controversial in our research," says Joe Dehner, director of interior and exterior design for the Chrysler brand. "Fifteen percent of the people absolutely hated them."
They're just the sort of "high risk" design feature that people have come to expect from Chrysler, he says. But don't bet on the strakes becoming a standard feature on every model. "Some will get them and others won't," says Dehner.
The hood strakes have no mechanical function, but they do have an unintended benefit for cold-weather drivers: When it snows, they hasten melting.