Dodge’s popular muscle cars, the two-door Challenger and four-door Charger, will be discontinued in 2023 and replaced in 2024 by a fully electric model, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Dodge announced two new electric vehicles at the Dodge Speed Week event in Pontiac, Michigan, this week, according to a press release by Dodge parent company Stellantis. The first was the Dodge Hornet, a Compact Utility Vehicle that offered both a plug-in hybrid and traditional gas engine model, and the second was the battery-powered muscle car, the Charger Daytona SRT Concept, named in honor of the Charger Daytona, the first car to break 200 mph on a NASCAR track.
“The [Concept] exists because performance made us do it,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Chief Executive Officer in a press release. “Dodge is about muscle, attitude and performance, and the brand carries that chip on its shoulder and into the [electric vehicle] segment through a concept loaded with patents, innovations, and performance features that embody the electrified muscle of tomorrow… Charger Daytona does more than define where Dodge is headed, it will redefine American muscle in the process.”
— AutoGuide.com (@AutoGuide) August 17, 2022
The announcement comes as Stellantis, who also owns well-known brands Jeep, Ram, Chrysler and Alfa Romeo, has targeted a goal of 50% of U.S. sales to be battery-powered electric vehicles by 2030, the Wall Street Journal reported. Dodge has historically caused headaches for Stellantis, with the low gas mileage of the Charger and Challenger contributing to the low average fuel economy of Stellantis’ fleet, leading to steep fines for failing to meet emissions standards.
A July regulatory filing revealed that Stellantis had earmarked $685.5 million to pay for U.S. fuel efficiency penalties, the WSJ reported. Dodge, whose only other car besides the Challenger and Charger is the Durango SUV, is being prepared to convert fully to electric vehicles, according to Stellantis Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares, the WSJ reported.
Stellantis is adamant that the car “feels like [a] Dodge – and just happens to be a battery-electric vehicle,” noting that the new 800 volt Banshee electric motor is faster than the popular high-performance Challenger and Charger models “in all key performance measures,” according to the press release. In order to preserve this feel, Dodge is going so far as to use an “amplifier and tuning chamber” to re-introduce a sound similar to a classic muscle car.
“While most [electric vehicles] embrace their virtually silent electric motors, that just won’t do for Dodge,” said Dodge in the press release. “The Charger Daytona SRT Concept voices a 126 dB roar that equals the SRT Hellcat, generated through a new, patent-pending Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust system.”
Dodge stressed in a marketing video that electrification is the next step in the automotive industry, and that Dodge “didn’t want to follow” other companies into the future. Some dealers, however, think it will be a challenge to convince existing fans of the muscle cars, who are particular about aesthetics and the ‘feel’ of driving a combustion engine, the WSJ reported.
Kuniskis told the WSJ that he didn’t expect to win over every fan, but that the new model preserved the intangibles of current cars.
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