Dodge Just Gave the Challenger the Axe
The end is here: Dodge just killed the Challenger. The automaker will continue to build this iconic car in 2022 and into 2023. But by the beginning of 2024, it’s putting the Challenger to bed. Why? The Detroit brand is under pressure from its new owners to make future-proof cars. So Dodge is betting on electric vehicles. But don’t worry, the Challenger muscle car is not going out quietly.
Dodge is cancelling the Challenger at the end of 2023
The Dodge Challenger was originally Mopar’s answer to the ubiquitous Ford Mustang. The 1970 Challenger was a two-door muscle car. The Challenger was larger than Dodge’s sport compact–the Dart. But the Challenger was also smaller than the two-door, midsize Charger. The Challenger had long, sleek looks and available big-block V8 power. Many enthusiasts consider it the ultimate pony car.
Retro-styled muscle cars made a comeback in the mid-2000s. With the Dodge Charger and Ford Mustang’s success, Dodge decided to bring back the Challenger. They shortened the LX chassis and paired modern V8 HEMIs with an available manual transmission. The manufacturer launched the third generation Challenger in 2008. The sports car was an instant success.
One amazing thing about the Dodge Challenger is that its popularity has increased over time. Most new cars see their best sales in their first year, then trail off until a full redesign. But Dodge sold 17,423 Challengers in 2008, 25,852 in 2009, and 36,791 in 2010. In 2013, the Challenger broke 50,000 sales, then in 2015, it broke 60,000.
But nothing lasts forever. Earlier this year, Dodge killed the Durango SUV. Muscle car fans worried the Challenger was next. Sure enough, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis confirmed that the third-generation Challenger’s run is coming to a close. In an interview with MotorTrend, he said Dodge will build the current Challenger for 24 more months. Then they will retire it by 2024.
The Dodge Charger will go out with a roar: Direct Connection is returning
During 2022 and 2023, Dodge will celebrate classic American muscle with special editions and aftermarket options of the Challenger. Kuniskis said, “For 24 months, we are feeding the beast.”
Dodge has already announced the Challenger’s first special edition: the 2022 SRT Hellcat widebody “jailbreak.” This model unlocks color and performance combinations previously unavailable together. In the future, we may even see one more level of SRT’s incredible supercharged Challenger series that began with the Hellcat and continued with the Demon. Then Dodge will retire the Hellcat badge in 2023.
The automaker will also increase the amount of aftermarket performance equipment available to Challenger owners. For this reason, the company plans to expand the network of Dodge Power Broker-designated dealerships. These dealer techs are licensed to install official Direct Connection speed equipment.
Did Dodge’s new French owners kill the Challenger?
Kuniskis shocked Detroit by canceling all three Dodge’s models in a single quarter. But here’s the rub: the Dodge brand is struggling to save itself from the chopping block.
After the 2008 recession, the Chrysler corporation–including Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, and Jeep–merged with European manufacturer Fiat. The result was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FIA). Then, in 2021, FIA merged with the French company Peugeot to form Stellantis.
Stellantis is the world’s fourth-largest automaker. It currently consists of 14 separate brands. The new management has promised that each brand has 10 years to prove it can build profitable vehicles for the 21st century. Afterward, some brands that compete with one another may be discontinued.
This is why Kuniskis announced Dodge’s “Never Lift” plan. He aims to upgrade the company’s aging lineup. Dodge has teased a battery-electric muscle car. Kuniskis promises to unveil this drivable prototype early in 2022. Dodge also has a plug-in hybrid in the works. Finally, it is developing on a third vehicle Kuniskis plans to announce by the end of 2021. He calls it, “a very, very, very, significant car.”
Will any of these vehicles wear a Challenger badge? Only time will tell. But Kuniskis admits that the final Challenger–on its current chassis–will roll out of the factory by 2024. Next, read about how Dodge canceled the Charger.