How safe is the Mopar brand?
was sitting at the computer the other day and got to thinking about the entire Chrysler Corporation "thing." It became DaimlerChrysler and now is Chrysler LLC. For some reason I don't care anymore. My concern falls to we Mopar freaks who have seemingly lived and breathed MOPAR for the last 20 years or more.
What if the new owners of Chrysler decide to just close the Mopar Performance brand down because it isn't profitable enough or it’s taking up too much time for the profits it creates?
What if the support for racers is terminated all of a sudden (if you think that can't happen just look at the Torco Racing Fuels team drag racers!) because the millions they are spending on NASCAR and NHRA is simply not relating to an increase in car sales. In my opinion this is an obvious one. NASCAR isn't even running Dodge bodies anymore, NHRA Pro Stocks have very, very little resemblance to an actual Chrysler Corporation production car and the NHRA Funny Cars have ZERO fan recognition to what brand they are representing.
What if the Mopar Performance brand is dissolved and split up among interested parties. Maybe one group would take the V-8 end of it, and another might be interested in the Neon or Jeep products. Would they survive if they weren't under the Mopar Performance brand?
Well, there has been a lot of speculation and the most common thing I hear is, "Don't worry about it, never happen. They (Chrysler) are making a ton of money off the aftermarket parts and the race team sponsorships are great marketing."
REALLY? Personally, I have to disagree. The NASCAR, NHRA and Sprint Car factory teams are still alive, but for the life of me I can't figure out why. From a business strategy the NASCAR deal looks like it should just go away and let NASCAR field their own cars and feed that dribble to their own fans. When a Ford isn't a Ford, a Dodge isn't a Dodge and a Chevy isn't a Chevy, what do you have? A Toyota, that's what.
I personally like watching NHRA Pro Stocks more when they are in the pits being worked on than when they are on the track looking like a bunch of pretty fast 2008 Top Sportsman cars. You think S/Comp and S/Gas are boring? At least you see some different "looks" to the cars. The NHRA Pro Stocks do not "look" like any factory production car; they have identical bodies, pretty much the same builders, they do not run fuel injection and they all go so straight and true it is a struggle to stay awake watching them. That is not an exciting place for Chrysler to spend their money expecting a return at the showroom. Now if it was a field of Pro Stock trucks, fuel-injected and using template truck bodies, that would be interesting...oh wait, they got rid of that, too many Pro Stock car guys whining about them. (The Pro Stock Truck guys were probably outselling them in the T-Shirt booths!)
NHRA Funny Cars are so out of control on appearance they should admit they have gone NASCAR. Get a body from one supplier, put your Ford, Dodge or Chevy sticker on the windshield, insert you billet HEMI and go racing under the "factory team" you represent. C'mon give me a break. Those cars don't resemble the brands they say they race for. Maybe that is what they want? If Dodge goes away, slap a Chevy sticker on it and leave that HEMI in there and now you have a Chevy Funny Car. Yeah, right!
Come to think about it, the only thing that resembles a showroom vehicle is the NASCAR Truck Series. I love those guys! The marketing arm in that series has a handle on what sells vehicles. Good job, guys.
Then what would happen if the Mopar brand disappeared? Would all of us diehards just attend "remember when events" and talk about the good old days? Put our Mopar items on ebay and cash out? Would some people step up and purchase the Mopar brand and do a fantastic job of establishing it as a top notch company for its loyal customer base? Maybe, but can you even imagine the expense in accomplishing that? Millions of dollars, warehousing, marketing, events and more. That would take some deep pockets to make it work. Right now Chrysler is picking up the tab but my prediction is, not for long. I really hope I am wrong but I think you would be ignoring the obvious to think any different.
Then what happens if the Dodge or Chrysler brand disappears from race teams? No Dodge or Chrysler presence in NASCAR or NHRA and Then what? Will that be the end of America's support for the Chrysler Corporation? Do race fans and racers with brand loyalty really deliver the buying clout we think we do? I am not sure, but I think we will find out in the next couple years.
No business can keep losing money and doing fancy accounting to make things look good. Eventually, the overhead they are burdened with will be too much. The retirement plans and continued medical programs for retired and current workers will have to be dramatically changed or the company will dissolve into something else. The cars won't go away and the jobs will still be around, but I predict it will be under another new group of owners, probably not from America.
Time will tell if the loyal Mopar fans and racers will have a brand to call our own. I hope so. It will interesting to watch over the next couple years.
Of course, I have been wrong before and hope I am this time. I wish the Mopar Performance brand was here to stay and the Mopar race teams could keep us entertained. Stay tuned and we'll watch this together, as a band of Mopar fans.