FCA emphasizing family fun of new minivan at NAIAS

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Families — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s target audience for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica — are receiving their first looks at the all-new minivan this week at the 2016 North American International Auto Show.

Several of the vehicles are featured at the automaker’s massive LED-centric display through the end of the annual Detroit event on Jan. 24. But the target audience for the minivan can be found inside the “Pacifica Play Zone” on the second floor of the automaker’s display.

The area includes play zones that turn attributes of the vehicle into games and activities for kids as well as learning experiences for parents.

“Each one of the activities that we’ve designed in the play zone is around one of the features of the vehicle,” said Bruce Velisek, director of Chrysler brand product marketing. “It’s an extension of our key marketing messages on the vehicle, and giving the families that go down to the opportunity to have fun together.”

The zones range from a “UConnect Game Center” that features apps on the vehicle’s backseat entertainment center shown on large televisions, to the “Clean-Up Zone,” where children will use the vehicles’ optional vacuum to clean their area in a Hungry, Hungry Hippos-style game. Others include a 360-degree family photo opportunity, hybrid learning area with the Michigan Science Center and more.

“We’ve never done a space dedicated to this kind of interactive exhibit, and done it in a way that I think is creating a fun environment for the family and kids to hang out in as well as learn about the features,” Velisek said. “I don’t think anybody has done something like this before.”

Autotrader.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs said incorporating the vehicle features with the family activities is a great way to draw families in to learn about the all-new vehicle.

“They need to capitalize on today’s millennials who are now starting to have families, and we know kids have a lot of influence over what parents buy,” she said. “It’s really important to engage the kids to have some influence over their parents’ vehicle purchases, and their emphasizing features.”

The Pacifica, which replaces the well-established Town and Country minivan, is an extremely important vehicle for Fiat Chrysler. Krebs said officials need to do everything they can to raise awareness of the vehicle, its new name and technologies.

The automaker also had actor Nick Cannon hosting a “Cash Cab”-style quiz at the display Saturday as a fun way to draw families to the exhibit.

The Detroit auto show is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Jan. 23; and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 24. Tickets include: $13, adults; $7, 65 and older; $7, age 7-12; and free, 6 and younger.


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