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An Electrically Assisted Dodge Challenger Could be the Future of Muscle Cars.

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 1/21/2019 Zach Martin
a car parked in a parking lot: dodge-challenger-hellcat-red-eye© Hot Rod Network Staff dodge-challenger-hellcat-red-eye

It's looking like the future of Mopar's pony car, the Dodge Challenger, is an electrified one. Despite Fiat Chrysler's (FCA) SRT division surging forward into the number two slot in segment sales (behind Ford's Mustang) with masterful marketing of the Hellcat platform, the days of this fire-breathing, V8-powered muscle car look numbered.

"The reality is those platforms and that technology we used does need to move on," said FCA CEO Mike Manley at the Detroit Auto Show. "They can't exist as you get into the middle-2020s. New technology is going to drive a load of weight out, so we can think of the powertrains in a different way. And we can use electrification to really supplement those vehicles."

There's no certainty of what engine will be the candidate for this performance enhancing electronic assistance but chances are it's not a V8. The noose of governmental emissions regulations is tightening and in response several manufactures have outfitted many cars and SUVs with smaller displacement engines that have fewer cylinders, and more alternate power options be it electric motors or turbos (both in the case of some hypercars). This has proven to be a viable option, especially when performance numbers are equal to, or exceed that of their V8 counterparts. Of the three engine packages that Chrysler has available, the 3.6L V6 is a likely choice.

Though Manely said that electrification would not be the focal point of the car, he told the Detroit News that it "would be deployed to increase performance of the vehicle." That's all well and good, however, that poses the question of the co-existence of American muscle and electric motors. Can the formula work? It could be a tough sell considering this soon to be vegan muscle car would be following the demonically, hellacious fury that is the Hellcat, Demon, Hellcat Redeye, and even the 1320. All of these vehicles were not only received very well in the automotive community, but sold very well in a time when fuel efficiency and hybrids are the status quo.

001-dodge-challenger-hellcat-redeye.jpg© Hot Rod Network Staff 001-dodge-challenger-hellcat-redeye.jpg

There's no doubt that technology is constantly evolving and that a mass electrically assisted and driven future is coming, but consider when Ford announced the four-banger, Ecoboost Mustang a few years back, along with Chevy's Camaro, and this news of an electric-ish Challenger. The end of the line for the American V8 is drawing near. Maybe not in all cars, but certainly, mass-produced applications. However, in true hot-rodding fashion us car guys and gals will take this new technology and figure out ways to make it perform better and better. It is the way we function.

This is not to say that the V8 is dead either! Wrecking yards, dismantler websites, and the aftermarket are littered with countless V8 engines with which to race and enjoy, the world over. Just don't be surprised if someday soon, there's a boosted, half electric Challenger, beating you by a fender.
 

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