In a not so distant future, an electric muscle car may become a reality as FCA boss Mike Manley recently sat down with The Detroit News to talk about the electrification of the iconic American muscle car, the Dodge challenger.
"The reality is those platforms and that technology we used does need to move on. They can't exist as you get into the middle-2020s. New technology is going to drive a load of weight out, so we can think of the powertrains in a different way. And we can use electrification to really supplement those vehicles.” - Mike Manley.
It is a sad reality but it is undeniably the reality that the industry is facing. Big, Supercharged v8s are not the future of the industry and FCA, like any other manufacturer is aware of this. But to hear the buzz word of “electrification” in the same sentence as American muscle car is still an unwelcome shock. But is this what is necessary to provide a future for these cars?
First of all, Dodge is not the first to play with the idea. Ford has already announced that a hybrid mustang will be unveiled in 2020. Certainly a change to the formula, but an attempt to preserve the mustang name into the future by Ford. It is also rumored that chevy is working on something similar with the Camaro after a decrease in sales in 2018. Providing a hybrid powertrain could have a free potential ups sides. It could attract a younger generation of customers, it would help companies meet EPA guidelines that will only become more and more strict in the future, it provides a way to increase performance, and finally, it offers a way to keep these famous cars in production. But, what are the cons of doing this? These cons are what really have the potential to destroy the muscle car as we know it today.
Let's look at another quote from Manley: “I think that electrification will certainly be part of the formula that says what is American muscle in the future. What it isn't going to be is a V8, supercharged, 700-horsepower engine,”
Obviously he isn’t wrong, oil supply is only going to continue to diminish, emission laws will be come stricter. Inefficient, large displacement engines, while fun, are not the future of the automobile. But can electric be the future of the muscle car? Or does the muscle car need to die right along side its rational formula of large v8 engines and raw straight line power?
Some of you will be relieved to hear that Manley said that for now, electrification cannot be the dominant element. This obviously hints to a hybrid powertrain paired to perhaps a smaller v8 or even v6.
So when might this happen? Repeatedly Manley mentioned mid 2020s as a timeframe for this to begin. So don’t panic, your 700hp v8 isn’t leaving too soon. But honestly, this time frame raises some concerns for me.
like I prefaced this video with, is electrification going to destroy the concept of a muscle car? I’m not convinced a hybrid or eventual fully electric car is going to have the same personality that is beloved in the current challenger.
Is a hybrid powertrain even going to be worth the investment in another 7-8 years? At the rate most manufacturers are pushing full electric vehicles, I question whether or not a hybrid “muscle” car will even be desirable in the mid 2020s.
What is your stance on this news from FCA? Let us know in the comments below.