Lots of emotions flying around muscle car circles right now. Ever since 2014, Dodge has been investing in the segment with the kind of fervor the whole of Detroit hadn’t enjoyed since the 1960s when these slices of America were invented. However, about 12 hours ago, on August 18, 2022, Dodge gave us the first real feel of the machine that will replace the current V8 Challenger and Charger in 2024, the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT all-electric concept. But what if it kept a Hellcat aboard as portrayed in this digital work?
Sure, Dodge muscle cars have been top-sellers, as the said engineering, design and marketing efforts have fully paid out. But, in a fresh era when the new parent company Stellantis (FCA-PSA merger) has given each of its brands a decade to prove itself financially, Dodge couldn’t rest on its Challenger, Charger and Durango laurels.
Cleaner and maybe more affordable driving, user interface, plus the novelty factor aside (the things most buyers seek in EVs), selling big V8s, with or without a supercharger, means Dodge—and Stellantis altogether—had to constantly pay hefty penalties for its corporate average fuel economy and carbon emissions.
Dodge is sending off V8 muscle with a band (more like a dozen bangs)
Even so, Dodge is currently doing everything a die-hard fan could ask for, from sponsoring Hellcat-swapped builds like this Viper to releasing Hellcat-animated special editions and all that comes in between (e.g., performance parts, revived retro old-school colors, a convertible Challenger partnership, etc.).
However, once the calendar goes past December 2023, the Brampton Assembly Plant outside of Toronto, Canada, the home of the Challenger and Charger, will be retooled for an STLA electric platform.
Admittedly, US carmakers have shown that relying solely on battery power doesn’t have to be about efficiency alone. After all, the tri-motor Tesla Model S Plaid’s 9s quarter-mile time and the sheer existence of the 1,000 HP, , 9,000+ lbs off-roading yacht that is the GMC Hummer EV (here it is drag racing an URUS and a TRX) aren’t exactly an activist’s favorite.
So, Dodge has decided to enter the ranks of electrified carmakers in its own way. Thus, the said concept, whose name curiously ends with that of the disbanded SRT internal combustion engine performance division, packs patent-pending features like Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust, whose 126 dB roar ties that of the Hellcat.
More importantly, the two-door Charger, with its classic design, features eRupt, a multispeed transmission with an electro-mechanical shifting experience (could the three-speed auto feel of the old days be back?). As for how the majority of the brotherhood of muscle is going to take this, Internet reactions are often irrelevant—it’s the sales that will do the talking. And, as difficult as it is to see the HEMIs retiring (they could stay as crate engines), I believe the new system is going to deliver.
With other segments, which rely less on emotion, Dodge has an easier task. For one, the new Hornet compact crossover, with its sporty Alfa Romeo bones and available as a plug-in hybrid) received over 14,000 reservations in less than 24 hours.
But what if, in an alternate dimension, Dodge had decided to pursue the way of Italian exotic builders and add a bit of electric power while keeping the mighty V8 firing for the kind of hybrid very few fans would complain about? Surely, this would be a different game than that of the hybridized 5.7L HEMI in the Ram 1500 and the Durango, but that’s another story for another time.
And yes, low-volume automakers like Ferrari or Lamborghini play the game differently, but let’s not get technical, as we have a potential 202X SEMA build to discuss here, okay?
Watch the final part of Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis’ Charger EV presentation in the video below (19:06 timestamp) and you’ll see him talking about the pressure to go electric. Well, this rendering, which, by the way, comes from a Challenger owner, blows a lot of that steam by adding a Hellcat motor up front.
This CGI concept is a HEMI hybrid
Digital artist Oscar Vargas (aka wb.artist20), fitted the 6.2L HEMI in a mid-front position, so as not to affect the aero channels in the nose of the electric muscle car. And while this may or may not be possible in real life, we could easily see a daredevil breaking all the rules and Hellcat-swapping an electric Charger once these land on the street in 2024. However, given the electronic constraints, it would take quite a bit of blood, sweat and tears not t remove the electric bits, which Dodge labels as Banshee, in the process.
The widebody added to the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT by the said Mopar-driving artist? This might be more of a Nostradamus move than anything else.
Sure, Dodge has talked about the EV muscle car being quicker than a Hellcat, but, given the AWD and the instant electric torque, that could probably happen with less than 700 hp. We also have to see how the Charger can face the Porsche Taycan—this recently beat the Plaid’s Nurburgring record, despite being down one motor—on the circuit, but let’s not get sidetracked (pun intended).
However, with tri-motor offerings like the Plaid (and the Lucid Air) already terrorizing drag strips, I’m expecting Dodge to release a four-digit version further down the line—I’d call this the “Hellcat of EVs”, but that would be confusing on more than one level.