to send its owners on an Easter egg hunt. The automakerís
designers have taken to hiding amusing graphic images that pay
tribute to its heritage on the latest vehicles from Chrysler, Dodge
include a topographical map of a famous off-road course secreted on
the 2014 Jeep Cherokee and an image of the Detroit skyline ó from
a perspective where General Motors headquarters is not visible ó
in the new Chrysler 200 sedan. The 2015 Dodge Challenger that
debuted at the New York auto show this week features a tribute to
the all-but-forgotten brothers who founded Dodge a century ago.
"We do it
to put a smile on the customerís face," Chrysler interior
design director Klaus Busse said. "Thereís no added cost.
Zero. You can turn a cheap piece of plastic into a collectorís
In addition to
evoking the Easter eggs countless kids will search for this weekend,
the idea draws on the name video game designers have for surprise
features they sometimes hide in their programming, said Edmunds.com
senior analyst Bill Visnic. The designers insert references to
earlier games and characters in new games, a subtle gesture
enthusiastic gamers recognize and appreciate.
inspired," Visnic said. "It brings a bit of levity to a
business known for taking itself seriously, gives the owners
something to enjoy and feel in-the-know about, and shows that the
designers themselves understand the vehiclesí and brandsí
heritage. It sets a brand or a vehicle apart. Owners appreciate
The idea began
with a little image of the original 1941 Willys Jeep on the frame of
the 2011 Wrangler windshield. The image simultaneously appealed to
owners who noticed it, and gave them a reason to buy original
Chrysler parts if they needed a replacement. Anybody can make a
spare part, but only Chrysler has the right to reproduce the image
of the í41 Willys for sale.
unique styling led to more Easter eggs, Busse said. An image of its
grille appeared on the 2011 Grand Cherokee ó find it yourself; the
gameís too much fun to reveal all Chryslerís secrets here.
The new 2014
Jeep Cherokee SUV is an Easter egg hunt on wheels. Among other
goodies, the parking-assist video display shows the Cherokee driving
past a row of Willys.
an image of a generic car" in the display for the automated
parking system, Busse said. "We knew we could do better than
that, and it took about 10 seconds to think of the í41 Willys."
problem was that Chrysler didnít have computer data to generate an
accurate image of a Jeep built 71 years ago. The Internetís full
of allies when youíre working on a legend, though. A Jeep
enthusiast had created computer data for an exact model of the
Willys. Chrysler downloaded a copy for a $10 donation to a website
and used it to create the image.
we created something unique that makes our owners smile," Busse
official process for Easter eggs, no requirement that every vehicle
have one. Each design team decides what, if any, Easter eggs to hide
when theyíve finished most of their other work. As in the gaming
industry, senior executives have no idea the features are there.
Busse, for instance, hasnít a clue what, if any, Easter eggs the
upcoming Jeep Renegade small SUV bears.
spontaneity is key to the ideaís charm.
the designers saying, ĎThis is our little gift for you, the user,
to discover. My boss didnít tell me to do it. Itís our little
secret,í " Visnic said.
the Easter egg and figuring it out is half the fun. It makes owners
feel like theyíre part of the club, but it doesnít exclude the
not-in-the-know customer from finding it and figuring it out. Itís
a canít-lose proposition."