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DODGE CEO NEVER WANTED CHARGER AND CHALLENGER TO BE LIKE ‘CAMARO AND MUSTANG’

The Alfa Romeo Giorgio Platform Would Have Put Dodge On This Path, Tim Kuniskis Pushed Back

2016 Dodge Challenger Shakedown Concept
Image via Dodge

The Alfa Romeo Giorgio platform is a high-budget, exotic architecture that produced some of the industry’s best driver’s cars with the Guilia sedan and Stelvio SUV. It was at one point earmarked to be used by 15 different models. This Italian platform was a legacy of the late, great FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne. But with the FCA-PSA merger to form Stellantis, development of the platform was ceased, with the company pivoting instead towards the STLA family of vehicle architectures that were disclosed last year during Stellantis EV Day. It was long rumored that the next-generation Dodge Charger and Challenger would use the underpinnings of the Giorgio architecture, with analysts on the trail as recently as 2017. It turns out however, that a decision for Dodge to stay the course with its existing LD and LA platforms – with a loose Daimler connection – happened nearly a decade ago.

2021 2022 2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Muscle Car Supercharged Hemi V8
Image copyright Steven Pham, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

“In 2014, we were getting ready for our investor day. We had a decision to make right then. The rumors were true, we were studying the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s (Giorgio) platform,” said Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis to MC&T during Speed Week. “We were studying to put Charger and Challenger on the Giorgio platform. We had heated debates. And I can’t just say ‘this is what we’re doing,’ I’m not in charge. The CEO (of FCA) is in charge, and the shareholders and the board is ultimately in charge of who is going to get the money. I can say ‘this is what I’m gonna do,’ but I gotta make a business case for it, and I gotta rationalize it.”

That didn’t happen.

“When we were looking at the Giorgio platform I said ‘this will not work for Dodge.”

As for why the Alfa Romeo Giorgio platform never got the green light for Dodge, Kuniskis explained that it was all about being different than the competition.

“It’s a great platform. It handles great, the suspension is great, the braking is great, everything is fantastic here. We can give you all the things we need to give. But we’re gonna end up with a Camaro and a Mustang.”

Looking at sales, the gamble paid off. Over time, the Dodge Charger and Challenger rose to the top of the muscle car segment on the backs of its Hemi 392 and Hellcat halo products, while the S550 Mustang began to lose ground. The sixth-generation Camaro, which was a sales champion just a generation ago with the more Challenger-like fifth-gen model, even more so.

2023 Dodge Challenger Paint Chip Car
Image copyright Steven Pham, Muscle Cars & Trucks

“Why would I deliver the same thing as them? I think they have great cars,” the Dodge CEO said. “I think the Camaro and Mustang are great cars, but they’re totally different than what we do. And it’s different with what we’re going to do with the (Dodge Charger EV) too.”

Looking at the future of the muscle car space, Ford looks to extend an olive branch to purists and current enthusiasts with the upcoming S650 Mustang for the 2024 model year. It’s expected to carry on much of the recipe we currently see with the outgoing S550 Mustang into the next decade as the last V8 pony car left. GM appears to be abandoning the segment in the near/medium term, shelving the Camaro nameplate and will focus instead on growing a Corvette family of vehicles starting with an electric sedan. MC&T was first to report on the details of the S650 Mustang a year ago, and exclusively disclosed Chevy’s plans on an electric Corvette sedan earlier this summer.

As a result, Dodge is primed to be the only two-door electric “muscle car” in the market space.

“Look at Ford. Ford has ICE in the Mustang, and to get an (electric) you have to go to an SUV,” Kuniskis continued. “Well I’m saying ‘no, if you want an EV, you don’t have to go to an SUV for us.’ And I don’t want to chase anyone, because I’m going to lose.”

Even though Dodge never ended up leveraging the Alfa Romeo Giorgio platform for the Challenger and Charger, the new Dodge Hornet SUV will share the same platform as the Alfa Romeo Tonale SUV, and not without some ironic controversy.

“Why did I do it? We looked at Giulia. It’s gonna be lighter, it’s gonna handle great, it’s gonna give you a sports car that will go head to head with Camaro and Mustang. I said ‘I don’t want that, I don’t want to chase them.’ Okay, what do I have left? We’ll do what we’re supposed to do, which is what hot rodders do. I’ll throw more tires at it, more brake at it, more motor at it, and I’ll overcome all of those physics. And you know what? They’ll love it.”

Kuniskis ended the topic with this:

“By the way, this is what we’re going to do with EV. It’s not a matter of power. It’s everyone is going this way, well I’m going to go this way. If you want quiet, politically correct EVs with linear single speeds, totally refined, look like a melted jelly bean, be aerodynamic so you can put a smaller battery in it, max out every kilowatt hour to get maximum range, I don’t give a sh*t! I want it to look f*cking cool. If I lose some range, so what?”

2023 Dodge Charger EV SRT Banshee Concept Muscle Car Daytona Speed Week Exhaust
Image via Dodge.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Detroit Region SCCA Member and founder of MC&T. Automotive Media Jedi Knight. Not yet the rank of Master.

3 Comments

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  1. A true motorhead at heart. Chrysler always marched to the beat of a different drummer, and it worked well for them. I’m glad they are going to keep it up. This type of thinking will keep them at the top of the muscle car heap.

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