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.
“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.
“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.”
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