Electrified Dodge Challenger, Charger Would Be About Performance, Says Kuniskis

Current Viability Is Another Story, However

Tim Kuniskis FCA Dodge CEO Stellantis Charger Challenger Muscle Car Cars
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Re-appointed head of FCA passenger cars Tim Kuniskis thinks that an electrified Dodge Challenger or Dodge Charger could be attractive for performance enthusiasts, but remains vague as to when that time will come.

“I’ve been fairly vocal on my stance on electrification,” said Kuniskis at the 2019 FCA What’s New Event at its Chelsea Proving Grounds in Michigan. “I think there’s a huge value in electrification… and I see it from a performance advantage side. There’s huge potential in that. If you look at the new Ferrari that was just launched, or if you look at the LaFerrari, or the (Porsche) 918, some level of electrification can be used for very interesting performance applications. I don’t know when customers are going to be ready for that, accept that, or be willing to pay for that.”

There are some valid reasons why enthusiasts and the muscle car audience as a whole have a reluctance towards accepting the hybrid and/or EV technology. They are, indeed, expensive. They add further complexity and weight. And perhaps most importantly, it could mean the elimination of the visceral soundtrack of violent explosions rapidly detonating inside eight separate combustion chambers. It’s hard to picture the Dodge Challenger Demon being the icon that it has become if it was an electric dragster. But Kuniskis has seen this behavior before.

Last of the dinosaurs?

“If you look at history and you think about the 1980’s, and everybody was starting to dabble with fuel injection… customers resisted that technology a lot. They didn’t like it, it was for compliance, and they were trying to figure out how to take it off and put carburetors on… but next thing you know, fuel injection was a performance thing and it wasn’t an emissions thing. So, is there a future for electrification? Absolutely. When? I don’t know.”

So, a Dodge Challenger Hybrid? A Dodge Charger EV? Perhaps. But not anytime soon. To that end, General Motors may be ahead of the curve, but risks being too early to the market. The Chevrolet Camaro eCOPO Concept (pictured below) teased the potential of electric vehicles at the drag strip with 800 volts of power and. Its 9.837 quarter mile time rivals that of the 840 hp Dodge Demon, but isn’t street legal, or a production car.

The eCOPO sounds more like an electric power drill than a powerhouse.

“Like everything, the cost will come down, and how do you do it? Do you do a ISG (mild hybrid)? Do you do a PHEV? Do you do full BEV? The price difference is massive between them and it’s all based on battery size. But if the costs of the batteries come down, it will all become feasible.”

Kuniskis finished by touching on making sure that any future electric Dodge performance vehicles would need to tell their own story.

“I think you can significantly differentiate how you arrive at that performance level (compared to gas engines), and how you package it, and what types of technology that you use.”

Keep watching this space for further Dodge, muscle car, truck and SUV news.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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