The Dodge Challenger and the Dodge Charger might not be the best-selling cars in the United States, but they are often in the spotlight for being among the nation’s most stolen vehicles.
Now Dodge said this week it is taking step to upgrade — for free — the software used in both vehicles to stop thefts of the cars equipped with 392 cubic-inch Hemi V-8 and 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 engines.
“Today, Dodge is launching a new owner-customized ‘double verification’ security system,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand chief executive officer — Stellantis. “When flashed into the computer of affected 2015 or newer Dodge muscle cars, the protective software will limit the engine output to less than 3 horsepower, foiling fast getaways and joyrides.”
Dodge acknowledges problem
The software upgrade can be installed free of charge by any Dodge dealer in 2015 through 2021 model-year Dodge muscle cars. The complimentary enhancement applies second-level vehicle security encryption via Dodge’s Uconnect 4C infotainment system, according to Dodge. Officials expect the new security feature to be available late in the second quarter of 2021.
“More than 150 cars are stolen every day in the United States,” added Kuniskis. “For any car owner, it is terrible, it’s a hassle and it’s a personal violation. Though statistically rare, car thieves have targeted the high-horsepower Dodge muscle cars, and we want the Dodge ‘Brotherhood’ to know we are taking quick action and covering their backs.”
The changes in the security system in the Charger and Challenger come after a series of high-profile thefts, including one right off a dealer lot, in Stellantis’ own backyard in suburban Detroit.
Police warning targeted owners
Earlier this year police in Sterling Heights, Michigan warned owners of the popular muscle cars their vehicles were being targeted by thieves after their officers were involved in four high-speed chases inside of two weeks involving stolen Chargers and Challengers.
Police in suburban Chicago have issued similar warnings. The Highway Loss Data Institute reported two years ago that the two most stolen vehicles in the U.S. are the 2016–19 Dodge Charger Hemi and the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. They are stolen five times more often than any other vehicles.
As a result, Dodge’s enhanced security measures have a secondary public safety benefit by preventing criminal police evasion and high-speed chases of stolen vehicles, company officials said.
Double encryption used in the new software has become common on consumer online accounts and adds a second layer of owner protection against vehicle theft. The four-digit encryption code assigned to each owner is designed to discourage key-code-spoofing thieves.
Dodge also plans to pursue other enhancements to protect owners’ investments. Kuniskis also noted 2021 marks the year that Dodge is distilled into a pure performance brand, offering Hellcat-powered, 700-plus-horsepower SRT versions of every model across the line-up.