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Dodge Challenger set for electrification

Next version of FCA's pony car will likely use a hybrid powertrain and much lighter chassis

By Sam Sheehan / Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The current Challenger has been a big success story for Dodge. In the ten years since its introduction, it's flown out of US showrooms - ranking second only to the Ford Mustang for sales in the segment- and brought global attention to the brand with its stonking performance. But even a range that is headed by the 800hp Hellcat Redeye can start to look a bit long in the tooth, so naturally conversation is beginning to turn to its successor.

"What it isn't going to be is a V8, supercharged, 700hp engine," is how FCA boss Mike Manley described the next Challenger at the Detroit motor show, which might surprise and disappoint some people. "The reality is [the current platform] and that technology we used does need to move on. They can't exist as you get into the middle-2020s."

For most of us, such statements are commonplace. But for proper American muscle car enthusiasts, the sort that don't climb out of bed for anything less than eight cylinders, that's likely to cause some hurt. Manley suggested to The Detroit News that industry pressures have encouraged a controversial switch to "electrification", but that "new technology is going to drive a load of weight out, so we can think of the powertrains in a different way", suggesting performance will at least take a step forward.

The current Challenger is based on 13-year-old Chrysler-designed LX architecture, but the next car will use FCA underpinnings that have been developed from the offset to be compatible with electrification. It's likely the next Challenger will therefore come with a twin-turbocharged version of today's 3.6-litre V6, boosted by electric power. Of course, there's still a chance a V8 will be retained for special edition models, even if only to appease the die-hard Challenger fans.

The Challenger won't be the only pony car to integrate electrification into its powertrain either, because the next Mustang is due with a hybrid four-cylinder. Given that this shift is happening across the whole automotive market, it might leave muscle cars looking a little insignificant. Don't you think?

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