End of an era: muscle cars go electric

The roaring gas-powered muscle cars that have been part of American culture for decades are set to fall into twilight in the coming years as automakers begin to replace them with high-speed battery-powered vehicles.

Stellantis’ Dodge brand, which for years was the banner of the company formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, has officially gone electric. Dodge has unveiled the Charger Daytona SRT concept car which is battery-powered and looks like the one that will be produced in 2024.

Stellenatis says it will stop producing gas-powered versions of the Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars, as well as the Chrysler 300, by the end of next year. The Canadian factory where they are produced will switch to electric vehicles. Other automakers are ready to follow in their footsteps, or have already begun to do so.

General Motors has announced that it will produce an all-electric Chevrolet Corvette. Tesla claims that its Model S Plaid version is the fastest production vehicle, capable of going from 0 to 100 km/h in less than two seconds. Audi, Mercedes, Porsche and other European automakers already offer performance electric models for sale. And Polestar, an electric brand spun off from Volvo, has just announced a new Polestar 6 roadster for 2026.

One of the reasons for the shift in industry focus is that electric vehicles are simply faster to start with. Their maneuverability is also often better because their heavy batteries create a low center of gravity.

Another factor is the adoption of stricter government regulations to control pollution. As U.S. automakers face tougher fuel efficiency requirements put in place by the federal government and produce a wider range of electric vehicles, they will have to ditch their gas-powered “muscle car” models.

Tim Kuniskis, Dodge brand general manager, said the possibility of government fines for violating fuel economy requirements had accelerated the transition to the electric charger. “The fines for non-compliance and the huge supercharged V8 stuff, yeah, they’re tough,” he admitted.

Anyway, it will be a few years before the end of the gasoline-powered classics.

“Over the next couple of years, I think we’re going to continue to see things about internal combustion engines, probably for the better part of a decade,” said Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid. “But the focus will increasingly be on electricity.”

Under new fuel economy standards introduced in April, the new vehicle fleet will need to average around 40 miles per gallon (17 kilometers per litre), up from 25.4 miles per gallon (10.7 kilometers per litre) currently , according to the United States. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The standards are likely to get stricter in the future, a trend that will force US automakers to phase out some of their gas-powered “muscle cars” if they want to avoid fines.

Among major automakers, the EPA says Stellantis had the worst fuel economy at 9 kilometers per liter (21.3 miles per gallon) and the highest average carbon dioxide emissions. So the company will likely have to remove some models to avoid fines. For example, the limited-edition Widebody Charger SRT with the supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi Hellcat V8 engine only gets 12 miles per gallon (5 kilometers per liter) in the city and 21 miles per gallon (8.92 kilometers per liter ) on the highway. Highway.

For many fans of this type of car, the idea of ​​a “muscle car” without its characteristic noise and aroma is heresy. But Kuniskis says Dodge is working hard to make the electric experience equal to that of internal combustion. The Charger, he noted, will generate its own airflow to make an exhaust noise that will rival its gas-powered peers. And the transmission will have gear changes.

He added that electric vehicles have the potential to outperform gas-powered muscle cars with their quick acceleration. But he said they were missing something. “He has no emotion. He doesn’t have the show. It doesn’t have the sense of danger that the internal combustion model offers when it vibrates, roars and moves.”

Kuniskis didn’t reveal how quickly the Charger would go from 0 to 100 km/h (60 mph), but said it would be faster than the company’s current gas-powered vehicles. He also didn’t say how far the new Challenger would go per charge, but added that it’s not as important as having a real muscle car.

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