On paper, Dodge’s Charger and Challenger seem hilariously outdated given their pushrod engines and aging platforms. Put your foot down behind the wheel of the 797-hp Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye, though, and you probably won’t care. Big power is big fun, and it always will be. But as fuel-economy requirements get stricter, how can high-performance Challengers survive? Most likely by going hybrid.
When The Detroit News spoke with Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley, he was surprisingly open about the need to introduce electrification. “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,” he said. “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.”
The good news is, it sounds like Manley is looking for electrification to improve performance even as the next few years likely spells the end of Hellcat-type vehicles as we know them. “I think that electrification will certainly be part of the formula that says what is American muscle in the future,” Manley said. “What it isn’t going to be is a V-8, supercharged, 700-hp engine.” On one hand, that’s disappointing news for fans of 700-hp supercharged V-8s. On the other hand, we’d rather have a hybrid Challenger than no new Challenger at all.