Dodge brings customization to the entry-level car market

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The car industry is undergoing an experiment that could radically change the way you order a vehicle.

In the past, a high-end luxury brand like BMW prided itself on allowing customers to customize every last detail of a car. Then both BMW and Mercedes have authorized after-market houses that do even more customization.

But for entry level buyers, you’ve traditionally only had a limited number of choices. The Japanese automakers may only offer four colors of a given car, two trim levels and six option packages. Conventional wisdom says that approach lowers the cost of car production.

But now Fiat, the company that owns Dodge, has decided to bring the high-end approach to the entry level car market. With the new Dodge Dart, you’ll be able to completely customize the car with a zillion choices. The vehicle will price out at the teens to right around $20,000.

If this idea takes off, it could mean that instead of going to a car dealer and saying, “I want that one,” you will be ordering one from scratch.

It can actually make the industry more efficient. Dealers won’t need to keep a lot of inventory on the lot, beyond just a few models for test drives. So dealerships could potentially become no larger than a big gas station.

My take on Fiat’s idea? The average car customer won’t embrace it. The more we’re confronted with choices, the more we’ll tend to shut down. It’s called “the paradox of choice.”

But we’ll see how it play out in the marketplace!



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