It seems obvious that Dodge was always going to have a problem selling the idea of electric vehicles to its core group of enthusiasts. The “Brotherhood of Muscle” is, for the most part, a group of dedicated petrolheads. They want V8s, not voltage, and horsepower, not hybrids — not to mention, they prefer the internal combustion engine to polar ice caps. Still, the Michigan-based company has tried. There seem to be two strategies at play here. First, the customers aren’t actually getting a choice. The year all-electric Dodge muscle cars start rolling off the production line is the same year the production of gas-powered Chargers and Challengers stops. The two mediums won’t be going head to head, at least not in terms of sales.
There is also the electric muscle car concept Dodge unveiled this week, the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept, which is both a glimpse into the manufacturer’s vision of the future and a potential olive branch extended to its more skeptical fans. The concept’s name comes from an icon from Dodge’s past — the original Daytona was the first vehicle to break through the 200 mph barrier on a NASCAR circuit. Features like the grille pattern from another iconic Charger, the 1968 model made famous by the “Dukes of Hazzard,” are also present. A Fratzog badge also appears on a Dodge for the first time in almost 50 years.
Then you have the features and performance elements. The company claims its concept can absolutely roast a HEMI Hellcat and go toe-to-toe with the ultra-powerful Redeye. There are also three unique features Dodge hopes sets the concept apart: the e-Rupt multi-speed transmission system, the R-Wing aerodynamic pass-through feature, and a “Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust,” which is a simulated exhaust sound. That last feature may not have gone down well.
While the TikTokers present at the event seemed blown away by the new Daytona SRT, their comments sections were not as kind. The vehicle’s exhaust feature was panned by a number of users in the replies, with one of the commenters on Fitrich76’s video simply replying: “We reving [sic] speakers now.” Another TikToker, Justin Hillard, is amongst the crowd predicting the move to electric will backfire on Dodge. He said: “Funny part is they will see the sales go down very quickly. Because no one wants electric. Especially because if everyone has to go electric then.” Caleb Schueng added, “You [sic] can I download the challengers exhaust sound? I wanna put it in my civic.”
Comments on ModdedDetroit’s TikTok followed a similar theme, with one user stating: “Such a sad era we’re going into.” Another user simply said, “we truly are going into dark times,” and one user criticized the vehicle’s figurative lack of soul. A notable portion of the comments section claimed Dodge was going to go out of business, though one user did say the car was better than Ford’s Mach-E.
These are just examples from a couple of accounts, but they do seem to reflect the broader reaction across social media. Influencers attending the events seemed quite complimentary about the new EV, while the majority of their followers tore the concept apart. In several cases, the electric engine sound was likened to the noise Simba from “The Lion King” made when he was trying to roar. You could easily argue that comment sections are the last places you want to look while gauging public opinion, but there’s also a case for saying these are the exact people Dodge was hoping to win over with the Daytona SRT.
Many of the comments seemed to reject the electric concept and lament Dodge’s decision to discontinue the gas editions of its Charger and Challenger lines from 2024. Earlier this month, the company announced its most iconic muscle cars were getting the ax so more focus could be placed on its upcoming electric lines. The news emerged around the same time Dodge announced the release of its first EV, an entry-level electric crossover called the Dodge Hornet.
To lessen the blow to petrolheads and Dodge enthusiasts, the company’s CEO Tim Kuniskis promised they would not be left behind as the company moves toward its electric future. A mystery muscle EV, later revealed to be the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept, was alluded to in the announcement, and the company also promised to have its first electric muscle car on the market the same year it ceases production of the Charger and Challenger.
The decision was always going to be a tough sell for Dodge, a company that was built on gas-guzzling muscle cars, powerful SUVs, and pickup trucks with enormous engines. While companies like Ford produce similar vehicles, Dodge’s competitors have always been more comfortable across a wider range of vehicles. Another issue could have been how sudden the news was, as 2024 is not far away. Rather than ripping the band-aid off, Ford is setting longer-term targets.
The one real silver lining for enthusiasts is that Dodge’s range of gas-powered muscle cars will not be going quietly. The company is planning to release a staggering seven special editions during the Charger and Challenger’s final year of production. In reference to the limited models being planned for next year, Kuniskis said that his company “wanted to make sure we were celebrating these cars properly.”