The all-electric version of the Dodge Charger lands in Las Vegas at the SEMA Show this week and, along with making a number of tweaks to the battery vehicle, the muscle car brand has released some intriguing new details.
Dodge officials have finally released a few key specifications about the Charger Daytona EV, newly repainted in Stryker Red. For one thing, even the base model will deliver a hefty 455 horsepower. And while brand boss Tim Kuniskis declined to offer specific numbers for the top-line Banshee edition, he did nothing to deny rumors that it could top 1,000 hp.
Bringing the Daytona concept to SEMA is a risky affair. The annual event brings together aftermarket manufacturers and vendors from around the world and has traditionally celebrated classic muscle. How those folks will respond to the idea of transforming the Charger into a battery-electric vehicle is far from certain.
“Technology moves forward”
But the Dodge CEO said during a media background briefing that he’s confident the Daytona will be well received.
“Technology moves forward and the customizers and tuners move right along with it,” said Kuniskis. “We’re demonstrating how old-school hot-rodding will thrive in an electrified muscle-car future.”
The coming year will mark some significant changes for Dodge. The Stellantis muscle car brand will end the long run of the classic Charger and Challenger models and then begin a yearlong makeover of the big Brampton, Ontario assembly plant where they’ve been built. When the factory comes back online in 2024 it will begin assembling a production version of the Daytona.
Senior Stellantis officials, including design chief Ralph Gilles, have told TheDetroitBureau.com the retail edition of the Charger Daytona will hew closely to the design of the concept. But that prototype is a work in progress. For one thing, it has been repainted in a bold Stryker Red for the SEMA Show. It also gets new wheels. They’re a compound design produced by supplier Laxe with single lug knock-offs and ultra-light titanium-carbon fiber rims.
“They’re expensive,” said Kuniskis, but should help boost performance, especially on the drag strip where they feature 18-inch drag radials.
By the numbers
For the first time, Dodge revealed some clear specs about the Daytona’s all-electric drivetrain.
There will be a base system, badged the 340 which is meant to suggest the equivalent of a 340 cubic-inch V-8. Depending upon which “stage” a buyer opts for, the electric drivetrain will push out 455 hp. The 440-badged models will make as much as 670 hp.
Both of those packages will use a 400-volt electrical architecture. But there’ll also be a more powerful — and expensive — 800-volt electric drive system available for the SRT Banshee version of the Charger Daytona.
Officials declined to discuss the numbers for the Banshee. But, considering there are a growing number of all-electric models making 1,000 or more, some sources have suggested Dodge will push into the four-digit range for the most powerful version of the electric muscle car.
Don’t be surprised to hear more sometime next year, Kuniskis said with a broad smile during an online webinar. If nothing else, he said he expects more details about Daytona and other all-electric Dodge models will “leak out” after the brand’s annual dealer presentation.
The Daytona will add a high-tech twist to the way Dodge has handled power in the past. The gas-powered Charger and Challenger models have been offered with red and black keys, each unlocking a different performance level. The production Daytona will instead use “crystals” embedded with RF chips, each paired only with a single VIN number.
During the background session, Kuniskis also confirmed the production Daytona will come equipped with the show car’s “Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust.” The system uses a patented transducer system to create an “exhaust” note similar to what the current Charger’s V-8 produces.
Winning over the skeptics
Market research found that while there remain plenty of EV skeptics among classic muscle car owners, potential buyers were substantially more interested after hearing the Fratzonic system.
Noted Kuniskis, “50% of them said the exhaust system caused them to consider changing their minds” in favor of going all-electric.
Dodge engineers have yet to come up with a final tuning for the Fratzonic system and, said Kuniskis, will be using SEMA as a test lab to find just the right note.
Kuniskis acknowledged it will take time to convince classic muscle car buyers to go electric. But he said the initial research has been promising. Millennials, he noted, make up about a third of current Dodge buyers and they’ve been most open to considering a vehicle like the Charger Daytona.
“We know it will take soak time to get people to consider electrification,” said Kuniskis, but he added that he is confident the production version of the Charger Daytona will win many over.