PONTIAC, Michigan – It’s That ’70s Show again with the federal government on the warpath to eliminate V-8s, gas guzzlers and fun. But the funny Dodge brand wants to stay one step ahead of the spoilsports.
“It’s like they decided to ban cows – but 5% of the population is vegetarian and the rest still want beef. The meat industry would sort it out, they’d make Impossible Burgers and other things,” said Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis in an interview ahead of the unveiling of its brand’s first electric car. “Same for the auto industry, we’ll figure it out. We’ve seen this kind of turmoil before in 1972, but this time we were warned that regulation was coming.” “
Dodge brings a lot of meat to the EV table.
The ferocious, all-electric Charger Daytona SRT Concept is the first look at Dodge EVs that will replace the iconic V-8-powered Challenger and Charger muscle cars when they become extinct in 2024. With a menacing, retro 1960s styling, V-8 soundtrack and Banshee logo behind the front fender where a Hellcat used to be, the Charger Daytona SRT aims to electrify the EV era.
“If the world is going (electric),” said Kuniskis, “it has to look like a Dodge, sound like a Dodge and drive like a Dodge.”
Here are five notable things about the concept:
1) The sound. Yes, this EV makes noise. Lots of noise. Same insane 126-decibel V8 sound as a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 Hellcat engine. Dodge achieves this feat using a patented system called the Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust.
It’s actually a pipe organ that hangs under the rear bumper and uses air and valves to create a sci-fi V-8 bellows. Under the Chrysler design dome in Auburn Hills in front of some media guests, Dodge toured the concept car as a Hellcat. BRAAAP, BRAAAP, BRAAAP.
“We worked a long time to get that sound right because we wanted a sound that was fresh, new and modern. We also wanted something that makes you feel comfortable,” says Kuniskis. “The secret sauce in that sound – although it sounds like something new, modern – is that it (he knocks on the table) is the firing order of a V-8 engine.”
Hit the throttle and Kuniskis says its electro-mechanical multi-speed transmission — called eRupt — will also upshift like a V-8. How many teams? “We are still working on that. More than two.”
2) Daytona, Romberg & R Wing. Like Corvette Stingray or Porsche GTS, Charger Daytona is a special name in the Dodge lexicon. It is not casually tossed around.
The brand’s first EV is named the Dodge Daytona in homage to the legendary, sleek, late-1960s NASCAR that dominated the sport as the first stock car to reach 200 mph (eventually evolving into the 1970 Plymouth Superbird). Only 500 production versions were ordered (for homologation purposes) and units sold for $1.5 million at auction today. Interestingly, the EV features an open frame version of the brooding, horizontal grille of the standard ’68 Charger – with the Daytona’s signature, slanted aerodynamic nose cone design tucked in behind the opening to suck the car down to the ground – resulting in low air resistance. efficient that made NASCAR so fast.
“The car we always wanted to redo was the 1968 Charger, arguably the most iconic muscle car ever,” said Kuniskis. “But that would be a brick. We would need a 150 kWh battery (which would cost $15,000). . . and that will not be price competitive. So let’s put Gary Romberg’s nose on it. It has to look like a melted jelly bean to make the aero guys happy, but it has to look like a muscle car. So he built the wing over it, so it now looks like a real muscle car, but hidden.”
Dodge called the design the R-wing, after Romberg, the NASA-trained engineer who transferred to the Charger from Dodge’s then aerospace division. Behind the streamlined nose, the body of the Coke bottle mirrors the original with muscular hips and a fast back. The high wing of the ’69 Charger Daytona is conspicuously missing.
“Not necessary,” Kuniskis smiled.
3) It’s a hatchback. Previous Chargers (including the winged Daytona) all came with rear cases. But in the SUV era, Dodge is determined to offer a touch of practicality to its new halo car. Thus found a sportback on other premium cars such as the Audi A7 and Kia Stinger.
“People buy SUVs because they control the road, have a higher seating position, are suitable for all weather conditions and have more usability,” says Kuniskis. “We can’t let you control the road because I’m going to build a muscle car. . . but I get a plus on his looks because it’s bad, so I guess I’m neutral there. And we go to the hatch. It’s huge. When that hatch goes up and the seats fold down, you have an SUV utility there (in the back).
The EV concept has bucket seats in the rear. It’s a concept thing. The real car has a rear seat for a good folding luggage compartment.
4) Four-wheel drive. The other piece of SUV utility that Charger Daytona brings is all-wheel drive. Every version of the EV has power in all four corners – a departure from previous Chargers that were rear-wheel drive, with the exception of the last-generation AWD V-6 engine offering.
“I’m going to give you full-time AWD on all my cars, whatever it is, so I have all-weather capability,” Dodge’s boss said.
AWD capability means front and rear electric motors, which – not only in Michigan’s four seasons – will help, but also be able to channel the massive torque coming from the Charger Daytona’s big battery.
How much power? Kuniskis is mom. But expect it to be close to the 100 kWh unit in the Tesla Model S Plaid or 93 kWh unit in the Porsche Taycan.
5) The 400/800 kWh skateboard. Sitting on an all-new skateboard battery platform with up to 800 volts, fast-charging power like the Taycan or Genesis GV60, the Charger EV won’t have a front motor. Dodge designers use that space for the aerodynamic R-wing – not a frunk (front trunk) like Tesla or Taycan.
With the battery slung low for a low center of gravity and top-end aerodynamics, the big Dodge’s handling should impress.
The wildcard is whether Dodge’s “Brotherhood of Muscle” will accept the manufactured V-8 noise and battery range restrictions. At Roadkill Nights – the legal Woodward drag race sponsored by Dodge here this weekend – the faithful were skeptical and took a wait-and-see attitude.
Whatever their opinion, the Charger Daytona will probably be the most talked about new EV this year. Just like this cheerful brand wanted.