Eventually, massive old-school V8s will thunder into the history books.
It’s an unpleasant topic of conversation for enthusiasts, but the reality has been looming for awhile. We often joke about the “Hellcat everything” culture over at Dodge — I mean, do you really need 710 horsepower in your Durango? That said, most of us in the TFL office respect the SRT team’s gumption and we love us a rip-snorting, supercharged V8. After all, we owned a Challenger Hellcat a few years ago, and have a Ram 1500 TRX right now.
But, at the same time, we knew this wasn’t going to last. And while I don’t delve into the politics surrounding climate change here, governments the world over are clearly tightening emissions regulations, especially after all the diesel shenanigans in recent years. To that end, Dodge brand head Tim Kuniskis noted the V8 engine’s demise in a recent interview with CNBC.“The days of an iron block supercharged 6.2-liter V8 are numbered. They’re absolutely numbered because of all the compliance costs. But the performance that those vehicles generate is not numbered.”
That last point is particularly important, especially when it comes to Dodge’s brand identity. FCA spent the past decade transforming it as a go-to venue for huge V8 power. Whether it’s the full-on Hellcat, Redeye, Demon and what have you, or the naturally-aspirated 6.4-liter “big Hemi”, you know what Dodge is about. That’s to say nothing of their advertisements to that effect. While Stellantis (what FCA became in recent weeks) has to acknowledge electrification, Kuniskis gave an on-brand answer when asked what that would do to the muscle car brand.
When the world fully embraces electrification, he says, “the crazy people are going to take the electrification that has now become more accessible from a price point and make that performance-based instead of economy based.”
How will Dodge look in a few years?
While Kuniskis mentions elecification as “Performance 2.0”, it’s worth noting companies like Tesla have already shown what electric performance can do. Other high-end performance car makers such as McLaren and Ferrari have done the same. Nevertheless, Dodge could be in a prime position, given its history, to make that performance more accessible to the masses.
That’s what made Hellcat vehicles so popular. To date, the brand’s dealers sold 50,000 Hellcat-powered cars and SUVs since 2014. 2,000 of those will be Dodge Durango Hellcats, the latest and possibly last variant of the supercharged V8 monster. We’ll have to wait and see what an electrified Dodge will look like, but it is encouraging to know electrification clearly won’t stop the performance enthusiasts out there from building crazy machines.