Like many of you, we at MC&T are wondering if this is the true end of the muscle car, with the internal combustion engine increasingly endangered. And going forward, it begs the question: can a muscle car still be called one without the drama, noise and power of a eight cylinders, mechanically timed to set off captive explosions in a designated firing order? Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis seems to think so. Provided that the performance numbers are comparable, or even better than what we see today.
“You gotta divorce yourself from the technology,” said Kuniskis in an interview with MC&T during Roadkill Nights 2021.”When we talk about Redeyes, Hellcats, Super Stocks and Demons… we do that to sell down the range… the same thing will apply if I can get you great performance.”
The Stellantis executive recognizes that the strong branding that has been pushed forward by the Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger muscle cars, highlighted by their abundance of V8 engine options. Kuniskis hopes that enough customers will follow Dodge into an electric era, hopefully not at the expense of the past ten years of effective marketing.
“Whether it’s electrified, non-electrified, a certain type of electrification, whatever. As long as I can deliver on brand positioning I’ll be okay. If I lose my brand position, we might as well not be a brand.”
Dodge Electric Muscle Car May Not Move Everybody
The July 8 announcement didn’t seem to have all members of The Brotherhood of Muscle in favor of the electric transition. Emotionally charged comments around Stellantis EV day can be found through all social media channels, with some pages even turning the comments off.
“The reception that I’ve gotten from customers… when you make a big change, there’s going to be people that just aren’t going to follow you, at least initially,” said Kuniskis. “But a lot of those people will return eventually when they see we’re serious, and we’re going to be Dodge first.”
Of course, if some Dodge customers leave because of an electric vehicle, then perhaps new ones will show up for the same reason. Kuniskis and company have been vocal in sharing that electrification can improve the performance of a muscle car, but customers have to be willing to pay for the upgrade.
“Some people won’t follow, it’s just the way it is, but we’re hoping that we can fill that with new people that are coming in,” he said.
However, there might be a bit of a grace period for those seeking the Dodge Charger and Challenger generation beyond 2024.
“The new platform comes in 2024,” said Tim. “The new car comes in 2024. We didn’t say that the current cars are going to die in 2024. There might be a little overlap, but you’re not going to have years and years and years of the classic and the new one at the same time.”
Earlier rumors have also claimed that the current-generation Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger muscle cars would stick around past 2023. It was unclear at the time that their replacements would be electric cars.
A Run On ICE Vehicles?
It’s a fair question at this point if this massive, policy driven automotive industry shift from internal combustion engine (ICE) to electric is causing some erratic customer behavior towards ICE vehicles. So we asked it.
“There’s probably some (run on ICE vehicles)… I’ll tie it back to Viper,” Kuniskis began to explain. “When we announced Viper going away, and we announced ACR at the same time, it was the best and highest price-point Viper sales ever… that was a run on Vipers.”
“Is there a run on ICE? I don’t know, maybe when we get closer to the end. But not right now, especially when we said 2024,” Kuniskis continued.
What To Expect Next
Dodge plans on sharing more details with the world on its future electric vehicle plans soon, so watch this space in the coming days and weeks for more announcements, and exclusive interviews just like this one.