Dodge Brand CEO Tim Kuniskis tells MotorTrend that the Dodge Charger sedan and Challenger coupe will go out of production in 2024 and will be replaced by new battery-electric vehicles on new platforms. The news has not been well received among the Dodge muscle car faithful.
Kuniskis says he has received death threats because of the news. “I’m juggling knives because I’ve gotta keep two different huge factions happy because at some point those two factions will converge. The problem is no one knows when they will converge. My job is to provide confidence, over the next 24 months, that we’re gonna do this.”
“These cars that you know today will go out of production by the time we get to 2024,” Kuniskis says. The exact date of their demise is still up in the air and there will be vehicles still in inventory on dealer lots, but Dodge will stop building the current lineup by the end of 2024 — maybe sooner.
The legacy cars will be replaced by new vehicles on new platforms. Kuniskis will not say if the new models will keep their old names, but he knows there is a lot of equity in names like Charger and Challenger, just as Ford has leveraged the Mustang name for its first electric SUV, the Mach-E.
Want to know more? Check out this entertaining and very tongue-in-cheek video from Dodge, and pay particular attention to the last few seconds.
Did you see it? No? OK, go back and watch the last part again and tell us how many tires are pouring out smoke? If you said “four,” go to the head of the class. Dodge is clearly telling us that whatever cars that follow the Charger/Challenger twins will be all-wheel drive beasts capable of gobbling up huge chunks of asphalt at the touch of your right toe. The message is that the company is not knuckling under to some wimpy tree-hugging climate nuts, it is taking automotive performance to the next level. If you loved the first show, you are going to adore the sequel!
Oh, that lighted red logo that looks a little like the rotor of a Wankel engine? It’s called a Fratzog and it was used on some Dodge models in the 60s. The name was made up because they had to call it something when it was first used. “It still means absolutely nothing and has no relevance or significance as to why we’re using it now either,” Kuniskis says. But, backlit and in 3D, “it looks cool and high-tech and modern and looks like it represents electrification.” It will be the designated logo for Dodge electric cars going forward.
3 New Models
A concept of a pure electric Dodge muscle car will be revealed as early as the first quarter of 2022, but not later than the second quarter. It will be a high performance, drivable, testable concept, one that will feature a number of new electric vehicle patents. The electric muscle cars — marketed under the eMuscle banner — will be built on the STLA Large platform, one of four electric car tool kits available from Stellantis group. Reportedly it will have a potential range of 500 miles, but that will depend a lot on how hard and how often the driver presses the go pedal.
There is also supposed to be a plug-in hybrid and a third vehicle with a plug that Dodge is being very hush-hush about. “The third one is going to be a very, very, very, significant car at the end of the year,” he says. Logic suggests that the PHEV will be an SUV/minivan. After all, the current Chrysler Pacifica is available as a plug-in hybrid.
And of course, Dodge is also working on a battery electric version of its popular Ram 1500 pickup truck. With Ford and GM also about to introduce electric pickups, it can’t afford to be left out of that market. The first question informed readers will ask is, “Where is Dodge getting its batteries from?” GM is building battery factories with LG Energy Solutions. Ford is building battery factories with SK Innovation. And Dodge is building battery factories with…who?
Pleasing Its Base
Dodge is not getting out of the internal combustion game entirely. It will continue to sell high performance parts and kits though a select number of dealers who will be known as Power Brokers. They will be required to meet the requirements to sell and service enthusiast vehicles high-performance parts in a way that does not run afoul of exhaust emission rules or void the warranties.
Dodge will start with a pilot project of 100 dealers, and when Kuniskis is confident he can get the volume of parts he needs, he will expand the number of dealers. Look for Dodge to rebrand race cars and events as powered by Dodge Power Brokers.
“Some of the buzz models, to the person who is excited about it, they will be super pumped. To the average person it won’t be that big of a deal,” Kuniskis says. They will be “cool and interesting,” he says.
Yeah, It’s Got A Hemi!
My brother in law, Steve Fortuna, has a 2016 Dodge Challenger in his garage. I call it the Purple People Eater, because it’s bright purple, sounds like a dragster, and goes like it was shot out of a cannon. It will loaf along at barely 1200 rpm at 70 mph, but drop down a gear or two (or three if you are really in a hurry), tromp on the joy pedal, and hang on as your ears get treated to a concerto for 8 cylinders.
It’s a shame those sounds are gong to disappear soon. Some of my fondest memories behind the wheel involve the sound of my XK-E climbing Mount Tamalpais or my Miata equipped with an Ansa exhaust system blasting down back roads in New England on an autumn foliage run. There are two things about automobiles that stir our passions — the sound of a bellowing exhaust and the force that shoves us back in our seats under acceleration.
The first will become a distant memory as the EV revolution moves forward, but the second will be enhanced by the instantaneous, unrelenting torque that electric motors provide. Those people sending death threats to Tim Kuniskis may want to wait for the new electric cars from Dodge to arrive before carrying them out. The may find, much to their surprise, that electric cars are every bit as entertaining as their gasoline-powered predecessors. Dodge will see to it.
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