With the announcement that the;Chrysler group will sell the industry’s first satellite TV system, we have to wonder–is Chrysler still engineering cars, or just “innovative offerings” to be built into the ones they already sell?
Chrysler announced its first bit of New York Auto Show news today, but it isn’t about a new car debut. Instead, it’s about a feature that will soon be offered in Chrysler group family vehicles. In a joint announcement with Sirius, Chrysler has announced a new satellite TV system that will be available exclusively in its vehicles for the 2008 model year. Using an in-car receiver and two roof-mounted antennas, the system broadcasts three popular children’s stations-Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network. It will be offered in any car that has a rear entertainment system on the options list, meaning the Chrysler 300 and Town and Country, the Dodge Magnum, Charger, and Grand Caravan, and the Jeep Commander and Grand Cherokee. The two minivans will be the first vehicles equipped with Sirius Backseat TV, and the option will cost $470 including a one year subscription. Once that period is over, service will cost $7 each month.
While Sirius Backseat TV is a great idea and an answer to the prayers of road tripping parents, I’m a bit concerned with Chrysler’s business strategy. How many gimmicks can they come up with? The new ’08 minivans will add this new toy to a list that also includes Swivel ‘n’ Go and Stow ‘n’ Go seats, the MyGig entertainment system, and a twin DVD system. And don’t forget Chrysler’s other catch phrases and features, including Parksense, Park View,; Load ‘n’ Go, Chill Zone glovebox refrigeration, heated and cooled cup holders, liftgate speakers, removable cargo lights, and of course that whole, silly Trail Rated thing. Kudos, guys, for coming up with tons of great car-related ideas. But Jeep Commanders-with or without Sirius Backseat TV-are sitting on lots for months. And no one is too hot and heavy with the recent redesigns of the Chrysler Sebring, the Dodge Avenger, or either of the minivans. Filling an ugly car with lots of toys is like Britney Spears covering her shaved head with a wig. Everyone will still know she’s completely insane. So please, Chrysler, build better cars. Then work on the “innovative offerings.”