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Stellantis hedges its bets on EVs

Manufacturer still producing muscle cars that run on gas

By TOM KRISHER, Associated Press
Published: March 9, 2024, 5:25am

DETROIT — America’s muscle car culture is adapting to the new world of electric vehicles, but the gasoline-powered high-performance road beasts will be around for at least a few more years.

Dodge on Tuesday unveiled two battery-powered versions of the Charger muscle car that will still roar like a big V8 engine without pollution from the tailpipe.

However, the Stellantis brand, which has carved out a market niche of selling high-performance vehicles, will keep selling a gas-powered Charger as well, sans the big Hemi V8.

The Windsor, Ontario, factory that will manufacture both vehicles will be able to flex between gasoline and electric depending on consumer demand. The flexibility will let Stellantis hedge its bets if electric vehicle sales take off or slow.

Last year, Stellantis stopped making gas-powered Chargers and Challengers. Many thought that would be the beginning of the end for the thundering sedans.

But Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis said there were hints that a gas version would live on. “It was always there. It was always in the plan,” he said.

The company, however, downplayed the gas version as it showed off two-door and four-door electric models that look a little like Chargers of the 1960s, with aerodynamic lines and hatchbacks instead of trunks.

The electric versions, named Charger Daytona after the NASCAR raceway in Florida, will come with two powertrains, one delivering up to 670 horsepower with the ability to go from zero to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds. The other is no slouch, with 496 horses and a zero-to-60 time of 4.7 seconds.

Dodge claims the high-performance electric version is world’s quickest and most powerful muscle car. An even higher-performance version is coming next year.

The 496-horsepower Daytona is expected to have a range of 317 miles per charge, while the high-performance version can go 260 miles.

Both will have the company’s Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust, which simulates the roar of a V8.

Both are heavy due to the big batteries, each with gross vehicle weights of more than 3 tons.

The new gas-powered Charger Sixpack will look similar to the electric versions and be powered by a 3-liter, six-cylinder engine with two turbochargers. Standard versions will put out 420 horsepower, while a high-output engine will have 550.

The company says the new engine will produce more horsepower and torque than the outgoing 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter Hemi V8s.

All versions have all-wheel-drive but can be switched to rear drive so owners can still do burnouts and drifting.