Ten years and 1.3 million cars later, the last PT Cruiser has rolled off the Chrysler assembly line. For a good while, it was the company’s best-selling car, and people waited in line to buy it. Now, some can’t wait to dis it, calling the dear old PT “a faux-retro pile of played out junk.”
The styling did have its own controversial appeal, with echoes of the 1930s and ‘40s, plus a versatile interior. The PT really turned heads. But sales declined because the company failed to update and redo the car—one of its more grievous management failures, which occurred during the reign of Daimler AG.
Chrysler did the same thing with the Viper, never investing in proper updates or redesigns. That car also ceased production last week, but this time they celebrated with yet another last “special edition” at the Conner Avenue plant in Detroit. A couple from Texas bought the gold-on-gold car (see photo after the break). They own over 40 Vipers (the world’s largest collection – what a claim to fame).
Now Chrysler/Fiat is hoping to change that deadly pattern by introducing yet another small specialty car, this time for North American fans only—the Fiat 500 Prima Edizione (First Edition). Which seems to be little more than the standard 500 with a badge and a choice of three custom colors.
This bigtime announcement was made at the annual Fiat Freakout convention of fans held in Asheville, N.C., where said fans
were able to enjoy complimentary gelato, espresso and cappuccino served by baristas. Visitors were also able to browse through and purchase various Fiat-branded merchandise items in a unique store area, finished in Fiat red and white colors and staffed by Fiat merchandizing specialists.
Now, what could be more exciting than that? When a new car hits the streets, some auto writers just can’t keep their pants on. Here’s Jalopnik’s Sam Smith reviewing the new Cadillac CTS-V Coupe: “Tire smoke tire smoke tire smoke sideways tire smoke! Hello, tire smoke! Hello, chrome! Hello, meaty shift lever! Leather? Leather!…”
Get hold of yourself, Sam, it’s just a car—and an ugly one at that.
Despite all the hype and hope of the auto media, the success or failure of a new car rides on the manufacturer’s ability to create a good-quality vehicle that people will want. Marketing, as always, begins with the product.
Do you think the demise of the PT Cruiser (and the Viper) was caused by a failure of marketing—or management?