The Hellcat may go into the history books, but muscle cars will live on as EVs

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The days of Dodge’s supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 engine are numbered, says company CEO Tim Kuniskis, who predicts that the infamous Hellcat models won’t be around for long. But while V-8 power is slowly dying due to tightening fuel economy requirements, muscle cars won’t disappear altogether. Kuniskis predicts that electrification will bring a new "golden age of muscle cars" upon us.

Prepare to bid farewell to the Hellcat V-8 engine

Dodge Prepares The World For The Death of Supercharged V-8 Performance Drivetrain
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Tim Kuniskis, the father of the Hellcat-badged Dodge models, thinks that there's no future for the supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 engine.

The powerplant that took the Dodge brand to spectacular heights in recent times is close to extinction due to tightening fuel economy and CO2 emission restrictions and the new wave of electrification, Kuniskis told CNBC. However, he believes that electrification won’t be end of muscle cars.

"The days of an iron block supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 are numbered. They’re absolutely numbered because of all the compliance costs. But the performance that those vehicles generate is not numbered," he said, adding that electrification will spawn a new "golden age of muscle cars."

Dodge Prepares The World For The Death of Supercharged V-8 Performance Drivetrain
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"The whole world is going to shift to electrification, right? We know this is coming,” he said. “The whole world’s going get there and when it does, the price point of that technology is going to come down and … the crazy people are going to take the electrification that has now become accessible from a price point and make that performance-based instead of economy-based."

Kuniskis went on to compare the 2020s to the early 1970s, when the oil crisis, increasing emission standards, and insurance costs killed off the first golden era of muscle cars.

Dodge Prepares The World For The Death of Supercharged V-8 Performance Drivetrain
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"1972 was the beginning of the end of the Golden Age of muscle cars. They went away for fuel economy, for the oil crisis. They went away for safety. They went away for insurance, and they went away for increasing emission standards. It’s kind of crazy to think about we’re getting close to a similar list of things right now. So is this 1972 right now and we just don’t know it because we’re just drunk on the horsepower? I worry about that every single day because think about how long it took us to get here," Kuniskis said.

Muscle cars didn’t return to their pre-1972 output figures until the 1990s, a long 20-year transition. Let’s hope that it won’t take as much until we have access to electric muscle cars that are as powerful as Dodge’s current Hellcat models.

Dodge is still offering three Hellcat models

Dodge Prepares The World For The Death of Supercharged V-8 Performance Drivetrain
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Dodge introduced its first Hellcat model, based on the Challenger, in 2014.It was powered by a supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 engine rated at 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. In 2017, Dodge launched the Demon, a drag-spec version of the SRT Hellcat good for up to 840 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque. The 2019 model year saw the introduction of an updated Hellcat, now rated at 717 horsepower and 656 pound-feet of twist, and the Hellcat Redeye, fitted with an upgraded V-8 good for 797 horses and 707 pound-feet of torque.

The second Hellcat model, based on the Charger sedan, arrived in 2014 with specifications similar to the Challenger Hellcat. The Charger Hellcat Redeye with 797 horsepower was launched for 2021 model year. Finally, Dodge also introduced a Hellcat version of the Durango SUV for 2021, powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 that cranks out 710 horses and 645 pound-feet of torque.

FCA is also offering the Hellcat engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and the Ram 1500 TRX.

Dodge doesn’t offer an EV, but that will change soon

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Dodge is one of the very few automakers that do not offer a hybrid or an electric car as of 2021. The company’s lineup includes only gasoline versions of the Charger, Challenger, and Durango, with the Journey and Grand Caravan discontinued for 2021. But this will change soon now that parent company FCA signed a merger with French automaker Groupe PSA in January 2021. The union is called Stellantis on corporate level and is headed by Carlos Tavares, who announced that every new vehicle the group launches until 2025 will offer an electrified variant. Dodge will remain a performance brand in this new EV era, so nameplates like the Challenger and Charger may continue with hybrid and all-electric drivetrains.

Source: CNBC

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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