On paper, Dodge’s Charger and Challenger look outdated. However, that doesn’t mean either car is going away anytime soon. But FCA has been forced to focus on government fuel efficiency requirements that are getting stricter. So, how can the high-performance powertrains live on despite the evolving rules? Every signal currently points towards the likelihood of hybrids.
Electrification likely holds the key for the Dodge Charger and Challenger’s future. After having a reputation of cranking out gas-guzzling models, it seems Dodge is finally ready to embrace electrification.
Grim outlook for gasoline engines
While speaking with Automotive News, Tim Kuniskis who is the Head of Passenger Cars, FCA, North America was keen to emphasize the need for electrification for the very survival of the Charger and Challenger.
Without giving clear timelines or details of what might have to change, Tim Kuniskis did suggest that Dodge may equip later generations of the cars with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric variants.
Similarly, the automobiles could also feature “e-axles” a development that could mean future prototypes might have front-mounted electric motors, providing an all-wheel-drive experience and at the same time injecting additional power.
Nevertheless, Kuniskis is confident that electrification will be a crucial aspect for the brand despite expected affordability challenges resulting from the current high pricing of batteries. Moreover, time will also tell more about the inclination of customers to the hybrid. Regardless, a significant portion of competing top performance models are also increasingly adopting electrification.
Tentative steps towards electric drivetrains
Already, there are signs that Dodge is in the process of building a mild-hybrid edition of the Hellcat engine, intimating that the company could be fast-tracking its electrification project. In spite of the scanty details, the hybrid tech version reportedly weighs less than 100 lbs and in all likelihood could end up conveying a further 130 lb-ft of torque.
If the hybrid prototype is to live up to expectations, then it will potentially have an engine with a start-stop system, advanced regenerative braking, and provision for extended fuel shut-off. Also, the hybrid version could feature an electric assist function capable of delivering an estimated extra 71 lb-ft of torque.
Dodge may be doing everything to keep the plans under wraps, and thus far no one knows when the hybrid will hit the road. However, borrowing from the Head of Powertrain Engineering Micky Bly’s words, the company aims to be at the forefront of electrification of automobiles in the next 12 to 18 months. That would represent a significant shift in the company’s strategy as the most notable electrification undertaking so far is in the Chrysler Pacifica hybrids and Fiat 500e.
Key take away
What’s behind the electrification drive? Micky Bly, in an interview with the Detroit Bureau, states that the concerted efforts aim to meet government compliance. Although the FCA boss also adds that, as it stands, it might not be feasible to get more efficiency from the gasoline engine.
Equally, expectations are it might take a while before a fully electric version of the automobile is made available. In the meantime, FCA is contemplating a hybrid drivetrain. Mike Manley, the FCA Chief Executive Officer, reckons the move to the hybrid as an initial step in the direction of further advancing the electrification venture in the future.
All images provided by the manufacturer unless otherwise noted.