With the worst of the financial crisis past, customers are opening their wallets to spend more on accessories, and that's great news for Chrysler Group's Mopar parts and service brand.
Sales of Mopar accessories have shot up from $250 a car in 2009 to $400 today, said Pietro Gorlier, CEO of the Mopar brand.
"We have almost doubled our sales of accessories. I think there is definitely a return of interest after the financial crisis to have a car as personalized as possible," he said. "The American customer likes to personalize a car."
Among those accessories will be a choice of six grilles for the new Chrysler 300 and three grilles for the Chrysler 200. Dealers will install the grilles.
Chrysler hopes the 2012 Fiat 500 will be one of its most accessorized vehicles. Mopar is offering more than 140 performance parts and accessories for the Fiat 500.
Mopar now offers an average of 100 accessories for each vehicle in Chrysler's lineup, Gorlier said. Chrysler views accessory sales as a way of helping dealers to increase profits. Peter Grady, Chrysler vice president of network and fleet, said this week that 85 percent of Chrysler dealers were profitable, the highest percentage since 2001.
Gorlier said Mopar increasingly is conceiving new accessories right from the inception of a vehicle's design.
Among other automakers promoting accessories are Toyota Motor Corp., whose Scion sub-brand has been especially successful marketing parts for customizing vehicles, and Ford Motor Co. Ford has an accessory display at its NADA stand.
"I think both Ford and us, we are absolutely on the same page," Gorlier said. "It's not a mystery that the two of us are among the best-sellers in accessories. This is why we have widened our portfolio."