Right now, we have Winston Cup, the Craftsman Truck Series, and NHRA. The Viper Competition Coupe is another example; it is a purpose-built race car that we are assembling and selling for racing purposes. This is similar to a program that Porsche has, and we will sell that through Mopar Performance Parts. Dodge has also announced their sponsorship of NASCAR's weekly program; we don't have an off-the-shelf engine program for that style of racing yet, and we have talked with Jim so that we can develop an engine directly for those racers.
One other thing to understand is that PVO's motorsports involvement is not a profit center but a budget item; once a motorsports-related project is approved, I am given a budget to do it, but it is not tied directly to profit like the other aspects of PVO are. For instance, I will say to them, "OK, if you want to go Winston Cup racing, we will need this much money to do it. Then the question is whether you want to run up front or just be in the field, because that will have a bearing on how much it will cost."
MM: How does Mopar Performance fit into the plan?JF: There are a lot of things I would like to do at Mopar Performance Parts. Presently, that effort is directed at the '60s crowd, big hardware and all that, but there is a whole segment out there in the sport compact/import market that we want to address. Today's young hot-rodder, who wasn't brought up on V8 power, is more likely to have a 2-liter four-cylinder in a Neon or Honda. We are seriously going after that marketplace; that was why we did the SRT-4 first; and we think we can have a big impact in that marketplace.
We're going after them with aftermarket parts; we're going to sponsor some drag cars. We are going to put contingency funds up in the road race and rally sanctions. We are looking at aftermarket packages that we can offer through Mopar Performance Parts, packages that would be based on the changes that created the SRT-4, which would allow other kids to take those parts and put them on their own Neon. We are also looking at going back; there are a lot of older Neons out there that are still good cars. We are planning for those parts now.
MM: Dodge has the R/T model in its lineup; how do vehicles from PVO differ from those?JF: The R/T lineup is the performance-image version of the Dodge, while PVO vehicles are much more oriented toward the serious performance enthusiast and targeted in a very specific manner. Not everybody wants a high-performance vehicle, so they both have their place. The R/T models are like shotguns; a PVO vehicle is like a rifle; it's for the outer 3 percent fringe of buyers who value performance above all else. So, in the Dodge Performance Area of PVO, we don't compromise anything related to performance; everything is done with that as the goal.
As a result, we sometimes have heated debates on what we need to do. With the SRT-4, there was discussion that we put a killer sound system in it. Not that the kids aren't into the radios, but based on the dollars we could spend and our target price, we would have had to sacrifice engine performance or chassis performance to do that. In the end, we decided that would be something they could do themselves rather than make it part of the car. They will have a great basic package with the engine, and they can add the individual bells and whistles that they want to it.
MM: The readership of Mopar Muscle is primarily based around older cars. How does PVO attract them?JF: There are people out there that I talk with who are Mopar people through and through, and we want to keep them that way. We are taking a hard look at Mopar Performance Parts; we know we have issues with availability and delivery. We know that we are going to have to make some price adjustments to be more competitive. We also have to address those issues related to quality. One of the things we are going to do with Mopar Performance Parts is increase the staff; up until now, there have been only a handful of people running that, so we will be increasing those resources.