Dodge Hornet’s pitch to small crossover buyers

Sean Tucker, a senior editor at Kelley Blue Book, noted that Dodge is looking to establish a niche as a speedster in one of the industry’s biggest segments. He thinks 4 percent U.S. segment share would be a reasonable goal. At the rate compact crossovers are selling this year, that would be roughly 85,000 annual sales.

Tucker said the Hornet will never be the RAV4 when it comes to volume, and he doesn’t see Dodge marketing it as a vehicle that will meet everyone’s needs, but there’s a space to carve out in the segment.

“I’m trying to figure out what buyer is going into that segment right now saying, ‘I want a small compact crossover. What has the most horsepower?’ ” Tucker said. “I don’t see right now that there’s a home for that person, so maybe that’s the niche that Dodge can create for itself. When you look at this car, you don’t say, ‘Well, that’s going to steal half of the [Subaru] Forester’s audience, that’s going to steal half the Jeep Compass’ audience.”

Randy Dye, chairman of the Stellantis National Dealer Council, said he thinks the Hornet will be a high-volume vehicle and that it’s cut from the same cloth as Dodge’s other muscle cars, even if it doesn’t have a rumbling V-8.

Dye said Dodge’s decision to tout the Hornet’s performance when many in the segment are looking for other traits is an example of the brand’s audaciousness. To Dye, this strategy is classic Kuniskis, and he thinks it will work.

“Kuniskis has already confirmed for the world that he’s certifiably nuts, but in a very positive way,” Dye said. “The value statement in that car is large. There’s a lot to that car. And the price point, at least as I understand it, is going to appeal to an awful lot of people.”

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