The next generation of Dodge Challenger will be hybrids, according to Fiat Chrysler’s CEO.
We knew this day was coming. With global warming accelerating and more and more states enacting stricter emissions and fuel economy regulations, the big, hulking, and woefully inefficient Dodge Challenger’s days were numbered. At least, in its current form. But FCA has a plan to save the best-selling Challenger, and it involves a jolt of electricity.
Speaking at the Detroit Auto Show, Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley didn’t mince words when it came to the Challenger’s future. "The reality is those platforms and that technology we used does need to move on. They can’t exist as you get into the middle-2020s," he said. "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."
Dodge has remained stubbornly gas-only even as other car brands adopt electrification to some degree. FCA as a manufacturer at least has mild hybrid technology helping the 2019 Ram 1500 and 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL see small gains in fuel economy, but it’s nothing like the giant leaps made by Japanese and German rivals in the realm of electrification.
"I think that electrification will certainly be part of the formula that says what is American muscle in the future," said Manley. "What it isn’t going to be is a V8, supercharged, 700-horsepower engine."
That last part has some Dodge fans concerned. A big, supercharged, V8 engine is precisely what propelled the Challenger to becoming the second biggest selling sport coupe in America, just behind the Ford Mustang. However, Mustang sales are falling while Challenger sales are climbing. Dodge definitely needs to tread carefully to avoid killing their golden goose.
Detroit News reports that a possible solution would be to use the tried, tested, and true 3.6-L Pentastar V6 engine, but give it twin-turbos and an electric motor similar to what Porsche did for the Panamera e-Hybrid.
But Manley went on to say that electric motors "can’t be the dominant part [of a muscle car]. Electrification deployed to increase the performance of the vehicle as its primary goal – with the added benefits of fuel economy – is very different, instead of the other way around."
A Dodge spokesperson offered no additional comment at this time.