FCA rides 'Star Wars' wave with Chargers, Challengers, Vipers and more

The mighty Fiat Chrysler automotive company is spending a lot of time and money on the movies this year.

Having already worked its vehicles into marketing campaigns around the earlier 2015 hits "Furious 7" and "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2," FCA went all out in a year-end assault tied to the massive opening of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

The Detroit car company bought TV commercial time, largely against NFL games, for all of its individual brands. Sports fans saw 30-second spots for Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, Fiat and Jeep vehicles.

The campaign was global, with TV and print ads appearing virtually worldwide.

The company also fielded a large fleet of vehicles badged with special "Star Wars" decals and decorations. Charger Hellcats and Challenger Hellcats got a First Order Stormtrooper treatment. Vipers got dressed as Darth Vader rides. A Fiat wore Stormtrooper gear at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Like its non-Stormtrooper vehicles, the Charger Hellcat is absurdly powerful and wickedly fun to drive. The fully weaponized Dodge is powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine that makes 707 horsepower — not enough to perform the Millennium Falcon hyperspace trick but plenty of propulsion for the L.A. streets and freeways.

At just under $70,000, the vehicle may be the most expensive "Star Wars" tie-in ever made.

Around town, the Stormtrooper Hellcat drew an assortment of reactions —  admiring looks, thumbs up, smiles and smirks. Like all muscle cars, it seemed to get the most applause from other drivers of muscle cars, who slowed on the freeway to take a closer look and then indicated their approval.

The "Star Wars" movies have attracted all kinds of marketing tie-in partners since the 1977 original, as fans have purchased lunch boxes, sleeping bags, sneakers and more.

This round, the Lucasfilm series, now owned by the Walt Disney Co., has licensed the gadget company ThinkGeek to sell T-shirts and other themed products, including a Stormtrooper or R2-D2 USB charger for the car.

There is even a "Star Wars"-themed motorcycle. The Russian vintage bike maker Ural has produced a "Dark Force" motorcycle and sidecar. It is equipped, according to the advertisements, with a mount for the operator's lightsaber.

Limited to a run of 25 units, the Dark Force Ural will retail at $14,999. The purchase price includes the lightsaber.

charles.fleming@latimes.com

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