When Dodge brought the Challenger back to the fold in 2008, it was thought to be fleeting gesture. A little over 10 years later, the model is still with us. Thanks to some ingenious marketing and especially to some far-out edition like the Hellcat, fan interest in the Challenger has remained stoked.
Still, it was inevitable that sooner or later the platform would come to be too out-of-date for the automaker to continue selling the car in its present form. We’re now just about at that point, and Dodge is faced with making the decision to keep on producing the model or shelving it.
It’s looking like we’ll have the Challenger among us for a while yet. Mike Manley, head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has confirmed that there will be a next generation, and that it will be electric… literally.
Let’s all wrap our heads around that for a minute… OK, now that we’re over the shock, let’s note as well that exec Manley is not talking about an all-electric Challenger. Rather, the new variant will adopt a form of electrification that the company envisages will enable the survival of the model – and the genre.
“…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.”
- Mike Manley, FCA
At the same time, Manley said that the next-generation Challenger would be a much lighter car than it currently is. A weight-reduction diet would enable ramping up its performance capabilities without having to perform miracle under the hood. In all probability that means a future Challenger would run on a V6 turbo engine.
It’s clear from the FCA CEO’s comments that discretion will be the order of day in how electricity fits into the Challenger’s mechanics. The model’s primary reason for being is to deliver performance, not fuel economy. In Dodge’s view, electric power should be used to help boost power; any fuel economy gained is a happy by-product.
This makes us imagine a 48-volt light-hybrid system using a motor/generator to assist the combustion engine in certain situations.
But still. A hybrid-engine Challenger? Not long ago, that would have been unimaginable.