Say Goodbye To The Old-School V8? FCA CEO Says Electrified Challenger Is Coming

"What it isn't going to be is a V-8, supercharged, 700-horsepower engine."

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Big changes may be in store for the next-generation Dodge Challenger. [Photo: FCA]

Think more in terms of hybrid, twin-turbo V6 instead of huge, supercharged V8.

The Dodge Challenger is getting pretty long in the tooth by now, and a replacement has been due for awhile. We’ve known it’s inevitably coming, but what we didn’t know with certainty was what sort of powertrain it’s going to have. Now, Fiat Chrysler boss Mike Manley said the next Challenger will not continue with its massive 6.2-liter, 717 horsepower V8.

As the whole industry is shifting toward electrification, the Challenger can’t hold out forever, Manley said at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. According to The Detroit News, he gave some clues to reporters what sort of powertrain the next Challenger will have. “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 elaborated further: “I think that 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 V-8, supercharged, 700-horsepower engine.”

2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320
How will quarter-mile runs look in the future without that massive V8 under the hood? [Photo: FCA]

Death of the muscle car?

That sort of announcement is sure to incite old-school muscle car enthusiasts. Despite the Challenger’s 13-year-old LX platform and larger Hemi V8 engines, it still sold more than 66,000 examples in 2018. Currently, the lineup starts with FCA’s ubiquitous 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, then includes the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, 6.4-liter Hemi V8 and supercharged 6.2-liter V8.

Unlike the Camaro and Mustang, the Challenger has stuck closer to its old-school muscle car roots. While those two have taken steps to become more sophisticated in recent years, Dodge has stuck to the philosophy of monstering the quarter-mile. In the purest sense, that is what muscle cars are about after all.

Detroit News highlighted Karl Brauer, a Kelley Blue Book analyst who remains skeptical of electrifying muscle cars. “There’s a long-standing rule about what constitutes American muscle, but electrification is not part of it…I need something that gets my blood pumping.”

Rumors suggest the next Challenger will use a turbocharged V6 engine paired to an electric motor for the most power. The Camaro and Mustang have already gone the route of fitting smaller engines to base models. However, it’s unclear what may happen with the lower-end models. Base Challengers could use a four-cylinder turbo engine, while models higher up the chain could use a twin-turbo V6 with an electric motor.

Whatever route they take, it seems the V8 engine’s days in the Challenger are numbered. And with it, so may the days for the muscle car itself.

Should the next generation of muscle cars be electrified? We have that very argument in our latest episode of “No, You’re Wrong!” below: