Electrified Muscle Cars Are the ‘Absolute Future,’ Dodge Boss Says
A plug-in hybrid or electric Hellcat won’t be arriving anytime soon, but it’d be wrong to think that it’ll never happen.
It appears that the good 'ol days of the gasoline-powered Hemi V8 engine are limited. The current head of passenger cars for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Tim Kuniskis, recently told AutomotiveNews that he thinks electrification is the "absolute future for these cars" when referring to the Dodge lineup of vehicles.
Of course, this won't be happening anytime soon, and in usual automaker fashion, Kuniskis didn't release a specific timeline and was coy on specifics—leaving things up for interpretation. What he did share is that these changes won't take place until the cost proposition is where it needs to be.
"I think the absolute future is electrification of these cars," Kuniskis said to reports during the unveiling of the Charger Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat Widebody models. “But I am a firm believer that electrification will be the key to high performance in the future."
Kuniskis said that electrification could take form in traditional gas-electric hybridization, plug-in hybridization, or there could even be the potential for the use of “e-axles.” The term "e-axle" often refers to the application of equipping individual drive axles with electric motors. Another possibility is the incorporation of electric motors into future transmission cases. Major transmission supplier ZF just signed a deal with Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, renewing the company's relationship which includes the supply of hybridized transmissions. Regardless of the specifics, he believes that electrification is in Dodge’s future.
This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing from a performance standpoint. As automakers like Tesla, Porsche, and Ferrari have proven, electrification can be as beneficial to performance as it can potentially be to fuel efficiency. Electric motors are capable of providing instant torque delivery on demand and can certainly satisfy the power-hungry lovers who are already obsessed with the crazy tire-roasting, smoke-inducing HEMI V8 power available on the latest Charger and Challenger offerings.
Even though the likes of the Hellcat versions of the Charger and Challenger are big middle-fingers to green mobility, they may soon embrace the power of electrification.
But one of the biggest challenges for such advancement is cost, according to Kuniskis. Electrification does present cost issues in that the components are considerably more expensive than a traditional gasoline internal combustion engine-based powertrain. And one of the biggest allures to Dodge’s go-fast offerings is the amount of performance and value you can get for your dollar.
"We don't have the price points of the batteries down to a place where, quite honestly, it's a mainstream proposition," Kuniskis continued in his interview. "You do see it in the upper end. You see it in the new Ferrari that just came out, you saw it in the LaFerrari before that, you saw it in the 918, you saw it in the NSX. So there's absolutely a performance advantage to it, it's just a question of when the consumer acceptance is going to be for that. And I think it's going to be as soon as the price points come down, it becomes a mainstream viable option."
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