This Failed Concept Was Dodge’s First eMuscle Car

The year was 2008: Lil Wayne was on the radio, The Dark Knight conquered the big screen, and Dodge decided to go electric. While the Dodge ZEO concept car never went into production this electric sports wagon could be considered the brand’s first attempt at eMuscle.

The 2008 Dodge ZEO never went into production

This 2008 Dodge Zeo electric concept car may be a preview of Dodge's eMuscle supercar | STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images
2008 Dodge Zeo electric concept car | STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

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The Dodge ZEO was a tiny, four-door hatchback. The dramatic car rode on 23-inch rims with a 100-inch wheelbase. Overall it was just 173 inches long and 51 inches tall. Its angular hatchback design accented its swooping fender flares. Dodge chose scissor doors, both front and rear. The rear doors hinged at the back of the car.

The name “ZEO” stands for Zero Emissions Operations. A 200-kW electric motor powered the concept ZEO’s rear wheels. In addition, the RWD car had a lithium-ion battery pack, but weighed in at only 2,650 pounds. Dodge predicted this ratio would result in an electric vehicle with a 250-mile range–equal to a Tesla roadster.

As importantly, the ZEO was a true eMuscle car. Dodge claimed the concept vehicle could accelerate from 0-60 MPH in just 5.7 seconds. The company’s designers told Car and Driver that the concept was a “new take on a muscle car.” But at the same time, Dodge also specified that owners could drive the tiny hatchback for just three cents per mile. In 2008, an internal combustion car would have had to get 130 miles per gallon to cost as little to operate.

Dodge is brining back eMuscle

This 2008 Dodge Zeo's name stands for Zero Emissions Operations | STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images
2008 Dodge Zeo electric concept car | STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

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While the Dodge ZEO never took off, Dodge is finally going electric. At 2021 Stellantis EV day, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis said, “If a charger can make the Charger faster, we’re in.” The company also unveiled a teaser video for an “eMuscle” car. The new car, apparently an electric vehicle, is targeted at performance.

Kuniskis also made the dramatic announcement that Dodge is canceling all three of its current chassis by the 2024 model year. This includes the current Charger, Challenger and Durango. The CEO promised that Dodge will unveil its new eMuscle electric performance car by the second quarter of 2022. In addition, he said Dodge will soon drop a new plug-in hybrid and a third new vehicle.

Will the Zeo live again?

Before the electric Mustang or Tesla Plaid was this 2008 Dodge Zeo electric concept | STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images
2008 Dodge Zeo electric concept car | STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

Dodge has not revealed much about its new eMuscle car. But could it be similar to the 2008 ZEO concept?

The new eMuscle car will likely be smaller than the current, oversized Dodge Charger and Challenger–just like the ZEO. In the teaser video, it also appears to have slightly flared fenders–just like the ZEO. In addition, some supercars are technically hatchbacks–just like the ZEO.

Unlike the ZEO, the Dodge eMuscle car will not have Dodge’s old crosshair grille. Instead, it will have a blacked-out grille, reminiscent of the 1968 Charger and a triangular “fratzog” logo on its hood. Also, it is unlikely that the eMuscle car will have the same scissor doors as the ZEO concept.

Finally, the ZEO was a RWD car. But all of the fastest electric cars are currently AWD. If Dodge is seeking maximum performance, the new eMuscle car will likely be AWD as well.

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