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Dodge SRT Hellcat is lynchpin for local launch

Claws out: The fire-breathing Dodge Hellcat is technically sold out and, while it is still on the cards for Australia, the odds are shortening for the car to come to here as part of a full Charger line-up.

FCAA in 'go/no go' phase for Dodge Charger launch – as long as Hellcat can come

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Dodge logo24 Jul 2015

THE Dodge Charger and Challenger power pair may be coming to Australia sooner than first thought – and, if Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia president and CEO Pat Dougherty has his way, the range will be spearheaded by the giant-killing SRT Hellcat.

“We’re in ‘go/no go' mode right now,” the former head of Mopar told GoAuto at the launch of the facelifted Chrysler 300 in Sydney.

“We want to bring the car to market with the top of the range being the Hellcat, then having a regular SRT8, and then an ‘everyman’s’ Charger, something that is affordable for the buying public and not the full performance upgrade,” Mr Dougherty said. “We want to bring it as a complete line-up.” The SRT Hellcat is one of the most potent cars in FCA's American stable, powered by a 6.2-litre supercharged V8 making 527kW. If it comes to Australia, it will comfortably sit atop of the most powerful Ford Mustang variant currently listed, the 306kW V8 Fastback.

The Charger line-up currently consists of seven models in the United States SXT, SXT Plus, R/T, R/T Plus, R/T Scat Pack, SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat.

Mr Dougherty, who took over as head of FCA Australia late last year, has made no secret of his desire to bring the Dodge brand to Australia.

Available in the US as both the two-door Challenger and the four-door Charger, FCA Australia would need to rely on the latter name to bring it to market locally, thanks to Mitsubishi’s ownership of the Challenger name.

Mr Dougherty explained that exchange rates were complicating the final decision.

“Right now were in a holding pattern. My position hasn’t changed one bit. Absolutely we’ve got to get that product to market,” he said.

“We don’t want to price the car to the currency. We want to be competitive in the market. We think we’ve got that (price) level fairly well defined, and we know at what level it makes sense for customers, dealers and for the company, and right now it’s right on an edge – and we don’t want to be on that edge bringing a new car to market.” The Australian dollar has fallen more than 20 per cent in the last 12 months from a high of $US0.91 to its present level of $US0.74. Mr Dougherty said that timing is critical, and will be based on the projected life-cycle of the Charger/Challenger.

“We have this ‘go/no go’ window we’re sitting in right now because of the life of the product, so the life of the current product will determine whether we can ‘go’,” he said.

“We need a certain length of time to achieve the volume of sales we need to achieve (in Australia). We know the demand is there because we’ve been out talking to the dealers, and they’ve been talking to their customers. There’s tremendous backing for the car.

“It’s very exciting and we really want to do it – we’re just a little stuck right now. If the currency can go down that fast, it can climb back up, too.” Mr Dougherty remains convinced that if the planets do not align for this iteration of the Charger/Challenger, the car will still find its way to Australia.

“We fully intend on going there, and I’m really excited about, and I love the prospect of bringing it here,” he said. “This market loves performance cars. I hear these other competitive makes driving by, and it makes me crazy. It could be us.

“Everybody’s convinced that the car will sell, and I think we have everybody lined up to agree.”

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