Dodge CEO says EVs can save America’s new ‘Golden Age of muscle cars’

Tim Kuniskis, head of Fiat Chrysler’s passenger autos division in North The usa, finds the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat SUV all the method by approach to a internet match on July 2, 2020.


DETROIT – Dodge has kept American muscle autos alive more than any a host of mark in the U.S. auto industry all the method by approach to the past decade, ensuing in a cult following that kept retail gross sales of its automotive-heavy lineup in the dim closing year all the method by approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nevertheless autos much like its unhealthy Hellcat devices with supercharged V-8 engines that crank out more than 700 horsepower – double that of most mainstream autos – will at closing must come help to an finish due to tightening gasoline economy requirements and the upward thrust of electrical autos.

The utter is something Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis, an icon among gearheads for the Hellcat devices, is successfully mindful about … and surprisingly no longer petrified of occurring.

“The times of an iron block supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 are numbered,” he instructed CNBC all the method by approach to a fresh video interview, relating to engines such because the Hellcat. “They’re completely numbered due to all of the compliance costs. Nevertheless the efficiency that those autos generate is no longer numbered.”

Kuniskis, who first offered the Dodge Hellcat Challenger in 2014, believes electrification – whether or no longer its hybrids with a much less extremely efficient engine or all-electrical autos – will truly achieve what he has called the fresh “Golden Age of muscle autos.” He calls electrification “Performance 2.0,” and he predicts this may possibly possibly happen once EV applied sciences come down in achieve and change into more mainstream.  

“The entire world is going to shift to electrification, honest? We know here is coming,” he acknowledged. “The entire world’s going earn there and when it does, the worth point of that skills is going to come help down and … the loopy folks are going to remove the electrification that has now change into accessible from a achieve point and form that efficiency-basically based in issue of economy-basically based.”

Dodge’s novel lineup involves a two-door Challenger coupe, four-door Charger sedan and Durango SUV. All provide Hellcat variants with more than 700 or 800 horsepower and top speeds starting from 180 mph to more than 200 mph.

Surpassed expectations

Kuniskis’ comments may possibly possibly just surprise industry onlookers. Dodge’s $70,000-plus Hellcat devices have change into halos for the mark, which technique they entice mountainous quantities of consideration that result in trickle-down gross sales for much less-pricey autos. Most just no longer too long up to now, a restricted-version Hellcat version of its Dodge Durango SUV sold out for the 2021 model-year.

“What Hellcat has done is technique past what our preliminary expectations were on legend of it’s technique past what a ragged, very high-finish orderly does,” Kuniskis acknowledged. “Within the closing 5 years or so, now we have sold successfully over 50,000 Hellcats. That’s a host of Hellcats in 5 years whenever you happen to comprise about you realize the worth point of that automotive.”

Dodge SRT efficiency lineup: Challenger SRT Clean Stock, Durango SRT Hellcat and Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Fiat Chrysler

Kuniskis defends electrification being the savior of autos just like the Hellcats by making an strive help at how the significant so-called Golden Age of muscle autos all the method by approach to the 1960s and early 1970s came to an finish. Such autos were a grass roots phenomenon, followed by automakers making them, which ended in government laws. Automakers overwhelmingly were pressured to entire such autos for more gasoline-atmosphere kindly devices with much less efficiency.

“1972 used to be the initiating set up of the finish of the Golden Age of muscle autos,” Kuniskis acknowledged. “They went away for gasoline economy, for the oil crisis. They went away for safety. They went away for insurance protection, and they also went away for increasing emission standards. It’s roughly loopy to mediate about we’re getting shut to a same list of things honest now.”

The Biden administration is anticipated to tighten gasoline economy standards, promote the adoption of EVs and be some distance much less supportive of the oil industry, which may possibly possibly doubtlessly result in higher costs. At the identical time, automakers are creating self-driving autos that haven’t any need for a driver of the efficiency of a muscle automotive.

“So is this 1972 honest now and we correct don’t comprehend it on legend of we’re correct drunk on the horsepower? I apprehension about that day-after-day on legend of take into consideration how long it took us to earn here,” Kuniskis acknowledged, citing the decades-long development of the horsepower of autos to what Dodge and a host of manufacturers provide this day.

Dodge offered the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat with 707-horsepower in 2014.


Dodge’s Hellcat devices have assisted the mark in its gross sales since being offered in 2014. Gross sales of its Charger have on an on a typical basis basis topped 80,000 or 90,000, while gross sales of the 1970s-inspired Challenger have surpassed Overall Motors’ Chevrolet Camaro every year since 2018. Ford Motor’s Mustang stays the highest-vendor of two-door coupes from the Detroit automakers.

EV plans

Dodge’s dilapidated father or mother company Fiat Chrysler, which grew to change into Stellantis by approach to a $52 billion merger with French automaker Groupe PSA on Jan. 16, has been some distance slower than many in adopting electrification.

Dodge has no all-electrical or lag-in hybrid autos. Kuniskis acknowledged that will alternate but declined to present extra details.

“I’m mountainous focused on the technique ahead for electrical on legend of I mediate it’s what’s going to permit us to no longer fall off the cliff.,” he acknowledged. “With out that skills, without electrification. That is 1972 honest now, this thing is going to full.”

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares instructed reporters closing week that every fresh automotive the automaker launches from now until 2025 will provide an “electrified” variant, collectively with 10 fresh devices globally in 2021.

Stellantis — now the field’s fourth-supreme automaker — used to be formed largely to be taught the smaller automakers with investing in rising applied sciences much like electrical and self sustaining autos.

Earlier than the merger finalizing per week up to now, Kuniskis acknowledged that Stellantis’ 14 manufacturers — starting from European devices much like Maserati, Peugeot and Fiat to The usa’s Jeep, Ram Vehicles and Chrysler — will allow Dodge to remain a efficiency mark in the upcoming age of EVs.

“We have all these a host of manufacturers, which permits us to be very concerned about what the positioning of that mark is,” he acknowledged. “I invent no longer must peaceable be roughly generic … All I perform is American muscle so my marketing and every little thing that I perform may possibly possibly just additionally be very concerned about exactly that.”