It’s official – the end is near for the gas powered Cleverness Charger and challenger. For gearheads, this kind of news is the end of the world as we know it – we’d be lying if we said the thought of a world full of electric cars didn’t alarm us.
Some even consider electric propulsion to be the enemy, despite EVs being much, much more energy efficient and able to accelerate faster than ICE cars. But gearheads have a legitimate fear of the future, because it’s not just about missing the 126 decibels of a supercharged Hellcat V8 or the 17,000 rpm wail of a Ferrari F14 T2 V12. It’s about the unthinkable retirement of the six-cylinder, the turbocharged quattros and the little gentle giant with three cylinders to the depths of history.
For this reason, Dodge is celebrating the end of an era with seven special editions in their Charger and Challenger lineup, including the Demon, Hellcat, Redeye, Scat Pack, Shaker and Jailbreak models. Dodge teased the models during the first day of the Dodge Speed Week event from August 15 to 17, and here’s what we know about the “Last Call” Charger and Challenger.
The future of the Dodge Charger and Challenger beyond 2023
“We are celebrating the end of an era – and the beginning of a bright new, electrified future – by staying true to our brand,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge brand CEO. Dodge has sold three million cars since the launch of the rebranded Charger in 2005. We saw it coming – the changing times heralded by the bizarre 24-month Never Lift advent calendar that should culminate in a new electric Dodge muscle by 2024 car.
We knew the future is electric, but – forgive us – it feels a little early. The ICE-powered Dodge Charger and Challenger as we know it will die after the 2023 model year. But the beloved muscle cars take off with a resounding bang in the form of “Last Call,” over-the-top special editions. The Dodge Challenger closed out 2021 as America’s number one muscle car, but only time will tell if fans and enthusiasts will be as excited about the 2024 electrified generations.
The first of the “Last Call” models for 2023 is the Challenger Shakedown, which the automaker has confirmed will be limited to just 1,000 units, split evenly between the regular and wide variants. It’s the production version of the Challenger Shakedown Concept we saw at the 2016 SEMA show.
To put Dodge’s future into perspective, the company plans to stop production of the Hellcat-powered Charger and Challenger by 2024 to make way for electric-powered models. We watched the Charger Daytona SRT electric concept unveiled on August 17 this year as a preview of what’s to come in 2024.
According to Kuniskis, the electric charger will run on the parent company’s new STLA large EV platform, one of four that Stellantis is reportedly developing, and will reportedly offer a range of 500 miles. Beyond the muscle cars, Dodge’s electric future extends to its other brands, led by the plug-in hybrid Hornet SUV.
What the future holds for the loader and challenger without the Hellcat engines
Kuniskis, Dodge CEO, commented, “At Dodge, we never disband, and the brand will mark the last of our iconic Charger and Challenger nameplates in their current form in the same way we got here, with a passion for both our products and our enthusiasts who push us to bring as much uniqueness to the muscle car community and market as possible.
When Kuniskis talks about “the same way we got here,” we like to think the same goes for how the Hemi V8 continued to help Dodge sell more than 1.4 million Chargers between 2005 and 2022. Introduced in 2015 as the high-performance variant of the Hemi V8, enthusiasts are just getting used to the 717-horsepower supercharged and intercooled 6.2-liter Hemi V8 engine that comes standard on Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat models, the same engine the automaker says has “plenty of power to drive everyone crazy.”
But then in the fall of 2021 Dodge announced it was discontinuing the limited edition Durango SRT Hellcat SUV, citing increasingly strict federal emissions regulations. This was inevitably followed by doing away with the Hellcat engine altogether. Dodge is replacing the Hemi V8 with the 400-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter straight-six GME T6 (Global Medium Engine Turbocharged 6) that made its global debut at this year’s New York International Auto Show.
Gearheads may feel better knowing that Dodge will replace the Hellcat with an 800 horsepower hydrogen combustion engine dubbed “SRT Hydra”. Hydra is basically an evolution of the supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V8 that will run on liquid hydrogen instead of regular gas.
The hard truth is that the future of Dodge’s muscle cars depends on the success (or failure) of the new Hydra engine. “The name Hydra is symbolic for us. While the legislation may have chopped off the head of our ICE-powered muscle cars, two more will grow in their place. Muscle cars aren’t going to break that easily,” said Ivan Tobrakfri, Dodge’s Director of Muscle Car Development.
Final word on the 2023 Dodge Charger and Challenger
That’s why Dodge has put together a fitting farewell package of seven genuine Heritage 2023 models to celebrate the “long and storied” history of the Charger and Challenger. We will meet the seventh and final 2023 Dodge model at the Las Vegas SEMA Show, scheduled for November 1-4, 2022. It will be the very last of its kind, the final nail in the coffin of a gas-powered muscle car era .
While details are still under wraps (we’ll know more later this year), Dodge says, “each model will share a connection to an iconic Dodge model of the past, dating back to the beginning of the muscle car era in the sixties. and 70s.”
The automaker confirmed that the cars will feature heritage colors (such as the B5 Blue, Plum Crazy Purple and Sublime Green along with the Destroyer Gray), an expansion of SRT Jailbreak models and a commemorative “Last Call” plaque under the hood for all of 2023 Charger – and Challenger vehicles. Dodge also says it will adopt a more customer-centric allocation process where all models are released to dealers at once, making it easier for customers to get the Dodge they really want.