Dodge warns customers of "unscrupulous" Hellcat dealers

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat


The greed of some Dodge dealers has incurred the wrath of the automaker.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is telling buyers to beware before putting down a deposit on one of the high-performance Hellcat versions of its Dodge Challenger and Charger models.

Both vehicles feature a 707 horsepower V8 that makes them the most powerful American production cars ever made. Despite starting prices in excess of $60,000, they’ve seen stronger than expected demand since going on sale late last year, and Dodge is having trouble building enough of the engines to go around.

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Test Drive:

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While it works to increase production, it has set up an allocation program designed to discourage dealers from sitting on the cars themselves or putting huge markups on them, although Hellcats listed for $30,000 over sticker are not an uncommon sight.

Essentially, each dealership that has been authorized to sell the cars is currently able to get one per month, and can’t get another unless it moves it off the lot quickly. However, this hasn’t stopped some of them from taking many more orders they can expect to fill anytime soon. FCA’s U.S. head of communications, Gualberto Ranieri, wrote a blog post on Friday that warns customers of the practice is unscrupulous and could be illegal, but did not name any of the dealerships that have it concerned.

The chairman of the FCA dealer council, Jim Arrigo, told Automotive News that dealers have to learn to live with the allocation system, and “for somebody today to take 200 deposits or even 30 orders for that car, when they know that they’re not going to get that many, that’s just wrong.”

Laws governing dealerships vary state to state, but Ranieri strongly suggests that shoppers ask a lot of questions before handing over any money, including an estimate on when they can expect to get the car and whether or not their deposit is refundable.

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