DETROIT -- When video gamers are zooming along in the SRT Tomahawk Vision Gran Turismo virtual concept car this summer, they'll get a peek at the imaginations lurking within Fiat Chrysler's designers.
The speedy, single-seat hybrid also could entice young gamers to explore Dodge's SRT performance sub-brand. The Tomahawk will come in three trims when it's unleashed in the "Gran Turismo 6" racing game for Sony's PlayStation 3 game console this summer.
Ralph Gilles, 45, head of design for FCA, spoke with Staff Reporter Vince Bond Jr. at FCA US headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., about the marketing appeal of "Gran Turismo."
Q: Do you think video games are a strong marketing tool?
A: I know they're a connective fiber for sure. Being a gamer myself, talking to gamers, a good proportion of the SRT engineers and even my own designers are gamers. Clearly, you are touching a great cross section of the U.S., and the world, really. I don't know if those same kids are going to run and buy one of our products tomorrow morning, but they know who we are. The conversation, you can watch in real time. I'll go home and read the social media chatter, and that will give us good insight into how our brands are perceived. It's important that they know that we're passionate about vehicles, passionate about design, passionate about engineering and also, at the same time, thinking about the future. "Futuring," so to speak. A little bit like the sci-fi industry, the auto industry has that in it as well.