The exhaust of the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Electric Muscle Car changes

In August, as part of Dodge Speed ​​Week and the Woodward Dream Cruise, an ode to muscle cars, the automaker showcased the all-new Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept that teases an all-electric muscle car coming in 2024. The response was, uh, electric. There were the haters who loathed the impending death of the V-8-powered muscle car, the critics and skeptics who jumped all over the idea of ​​an exhaust note and multispeed transmission in an EV, and then there were those who admired the design. and the guts behind the concept.

So we caught up with Dodge brand CEO Tim Kuniskis at the recent North American International Detroit Auto Show for an update on the aftermath and what his next steps are. “Reaction was off the charts,” he told MotorTrend in an interview on the auto show floor. The media coverage quickly garnered more than 20 million views — the equivalent of about $47 million in marketing costs, he says. “It started out super negative,” he added.

drunk on

The team had been working on the sound for a year. “We were super confident about the idle because the idle was non-negotiable for us. It literally has the cadence of the Hemi [V-8] firing order, so we knew it was good. We also knew we didn’t want this to sound like a fake V-8, we wanted it to sound modern, fresh and new; and have a kind of screaming sound that is very recognizable in electric motors,” he said.

Presenting outdoors and to online livestream audiences has also been a tricky business, Kuniskis says. The car is designed in such a way that air flows through a real piped exhaust system, generating a sound that passes through an amplifier and a tuning chamber for the resulting 126-decibel roar. The plan for the live event was to put a microphone on the exhaust and pump the sound through the speakers in the building. But the speakers in the building were tuned to the voices of the presenters, making the exhaust sound too loud and fake.

“So we decided not to use speakers, it becomes the sound of the car and we drove out with a handmade car,” explains Kuniskis. “I wanted people to be able to hear the sound as it drove by. It was important to make sound with the movement of air, not with some speakers.” He says it should be heard with the spatial difference of a car driving in the opposite direction — a nuance that can’t be picked up on a computer speaker for those watching the event remotely.

A new steering wheel design for the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept offers a thinner feel, with a flat top and bottom, and an illuminated red SRT logo illuminates the center of the steering wheel.

Nor is it done. “Have we cracked the code on wide-open motorcycles? Not yet. But we have two years,” Kuniskis says, before the car goes on sale. “We changed the sound of that car 1000 times and we will continue to do that.”

Better sound for SEMA visitors

“We’re still working on it and we have a plan to do something with it at SEMA that will help. By the time we can launch, we’ll be familiar with the sound and where we are,” Kuniskis promised from the show floor .

While the original Charger Daytona concept was on display at the Detroit Show, Kuniskis said there are plans to show a different side of the electric muscle car at SEMA in November. It will be an opportunity to showcase how authorized Direct Connection dealers are equipped to help buyers who want to customize their car. “We will show a different version of that car. It will look completely different, to show the multiple personalities.” In addition to a new version of the Charger Daytona with drag radials, custom two-piece carbon and aluminum centerlock wheels and more, visitors to the SEMA Show can participate in selecting the sound of the all-electric Dodge. At the Dodge booth, which is much larger for 2022, Stellantis will host a “SEMA Research Clinic” where the public can choose the sound of the polarizing Fratzonic exhaust on the EV.

Entering the lion’s den

Dodge could have gone the safe way and initially unveiled the Daytona EV to the tech crowd at CES, but instead opted for the Dream Cruise: a lion’s den with its muscle car clubs and fans. “I didn’t expect everyone to hug me after that,” says the brand chief.

“We still have work to do, but we’re off to a good start. This could be a little tricky. Now we have two years of our business plan to seep it out,” says Kuniskis. And Dodge is a niche brand that seems unlikely to ever exceed 5 percent of total US market share. “Most people don’t like what we do. That’s okay. They weren’t planning on buying a Hellcat either. The brand isn’t for everyone.”

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