For those bemoaning the imminent demise of Dodge’s gas-powered muscle cars, the automaker has a message: fear not the future, for it is electric.
Dodge revealed its first electric muscle car, the Charger Daytona SRT concept, at an event this week at its Pontiac, Michigan-based headquarters. The two-door coupe is positioned as a preview for the automaker’s first EV, which is expected to go into production in 2024.
“The Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept exists because performance made us do it,” said Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis in a statement. “Dodge is about muscle, attitude and performance, and the brand carries that chip on its shoulder and into the BEV segment through a concept loaded with patents, innovations, and performance features that embody the electrified muscle of tomorrow.”
Before we talk about the specs, we need to address that sound. EVs, by nature, are mostly silent, thanks to the absence of an internal combustion engine. And so much of what defines a Dodge muscle car is related to the roar of the Hemi engine. So Dodge fans would be excused if they found it a little off-putting if they stepped on the accelerator of an electric muscle car and this was the sound it made.
How would you describe that sound? Ornery lion that just got neutered? Tracheostomy bobcat with a voice box? The use of fake engine noise is sure to be divisive among muscle car enthusiasts. Some will love it, while others will no doubt find it leaves a lot to be desired. Dodge is calling the “BEV exhaust noise” (which is just a delightful oxymoron) a first-of-its-kind. Whether it’s the right noise for this particular car is still up for debate.
The look of the Charger Daytona SRT concept is likely to be less divisive, straddling the line between retro and futuristic while maintaining a muscular, aerodynamic stance. Dodge said the intention is to “muscle aside” (har har) other, more boring-looking EV concepts in favor of something more in your face.
There are a lot of design cues meant to harken back to Dodge’s legacy — most notably, the front end features a large opening for air to pass through, which the company is calling an “R-Wing.”
The other two patent-pending features that Dodge wants to emphasize have equally absurd-sounding names. The first is the “Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust,” which Dodge claims can reach 126 decibels, “making it as loud as a Hellcat-powered Dodge.” And the second is a multispeed transmission with an electro-mechanical shifting experience that the automaker is calling “eRupt.”
(“Fratzonic” is a reference to a logo Dodge used in the 1960s and ’70s called the “Fratzog,” — a word made up by a designer. It features a split deltoid made of three arrowhead shapes that form a three-pointed star.)
The new system pushes sound through an amplifier and tuning chamber located at the rear of the vehicle. Kuniskis, speaking to CNBC, compared it to a wind organ with chambers and pipes.
“We said, ‘OK, if it’s going to happen, let’s do it like Dodge,’” Kuniskis told reporters. “We’re not going to go there and do the same thing. Dodge is going to get lost if we try to do the same thing as everybody else.”
But if you’re looking for more relevant specs, like range, battery capacity, or charging speed, you’ll have to wait. Dodge isn’t releasing performance metrics for the concept car or the yet-to-be-named production muscle car — yet.
The automaker did reveal that the concept sits on top of Dodge’s 800-volt Banshee propulsion system, which, if it makes it into the production version as expected, should allow the EV to charge at rates of up to 350kW at a DC fast charging station. In addition, all-wheel drive will ensure that the Dodge Charger EV performs well in all conditions.
While EVs are often quicker than most gas-powered vehicles thanks to “linear acceleration” that produces astonishing 0–60 mph times, they often lack the driving dynamics that many performance car owners enjoy. Dodge says it’s trying to address this gap through the introduction of new features, like the eRupt electro-mechanical shifting. This feature “delivers distinctive shift points, throwing shoulders into seatbacks in true Dodge style,” the company said.
Much like Tesla with its Ludicrous mode, the Dodge Charger EV will include something called a “PowerShot push-to-pass feature.” By pushing a button on the steering wheel, the PowerShot delivers an “adrenaline jolt of increased horsepower for a quick burst of acceleration,” the company says.
In addition to electric versions of Charger and Challenger vehicles, Dodge-parent Stellantis also plans on producing electric trucks, including a battery-powered Ram 1500 that would compete with Ford’s upcoming F-150 Lightning. Dodge’s sister companies, like Jeep, Chrysler, and brands from the PSA Groupe, are also producing EVs.