Dodge is going all in on electrified vehicles. Earlier this week the storied automaker showed off its latest hybrid, the Dodge Hornet crossover. Now, the company known for muscle cars and V8s introduced a concept of what might be the first true electric muscle car.
The Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept will debut in 2024 as a production model with nine power levels, all-wheel drive, exhaust “noise” and a transmission that, unlike what is in almost all electric vehicles, shifts.
“This car, we believe, will redefine American muscle,” Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis told Newsweek. It will run to the car show, it will run a quarter mile and it will run to Costco because of the lift gate and the full flat seats that adds functionality inside. All-wheel drive will handle the weather and it’s also going to outrun discussion.”
Like muscle cars of the past, the electric Charger Daytona will be upgradable through the company’s Direct Connection services. The Charger SRT Daytona Concept offers three base levels of power, and each one will be upgradable to two more power levels.
Most of those upgrades are software-related in this digital era, but Dodge says it will also help buyers plan their upgrades.
“There will be hardware and there will be software. Because at certain levels more suspension needs to be incorporated, more brakes. So, we’re planning for that. And that’s why it was important for me to be planning for nine power levels today. And then we’re going to watch through Direct Connection. Our intent is going to be similar to what we’re doing today,” said Kuniskis.
It will feature both 400-volt standard and 800-volt “Banshee” electrical systems for fast recharging and discharging, though Dodge didn’t say exactly how much horsepower would flow through the system.
The design of the vehicle started with aerodynamics with Dodge saying that in 100 years of automobile making, companies have improved aerodynamics 25 percent. The new Charger Daytona will be 25 percent better than the current Charger model.
“We kind of distilled the design down to the essence of what a muscle car was for us. We didn’t want people to look at this car and see a retro design. We want people to look at this, and those that know will say yeah, that’s a nod to history,” Scott Krugger, Head of Dodge exterior design told Newsweek. “We have air curtains on the front of the vehicle, making this extremely aerodynamic. But not losing that brutality, not losing that aggression that our vehicles are known for.”
An aerodynamic pass through called the R-Wing leads to the hood of the Dodge Charger Daytona. It rides on 21-inch turbine-style wheels wrapped with wide high-performance tires.
Two openings meant to look (and act) like exhaust pipes punctuate the rear. And that’s where a little movie magic comes in. Those openings not only project sound like a muscle car, but they also project percussive air making it feel real.
Dodge calls it the Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust (a play on the new three-pointed Fratzog logo its electric cars will be wearing) and it can get to 126 decibels, just a little bit less than an airplane at takeoff.
“If I look at today’s car, I put gas in the car, the gas burns, it produces power and propels the car. I put electricity in this car, when I convert that electricity to power moving the car it’s the same thing, but I’m not going to give you a speaker to create a false stop,” said Kuniskis.
“I’m going to give you movement of air inside an actual exhaust system. We have chambers, pipes and outlets. We’re creating that. We’re taking throttle position, shift points, all the same inputs that are going into a car today that are making the movement and then running it through our own proprietary stuff. I don’t care if we lost the internal combustion engine era to do this.”
Like the Dodge Hornet hybrid crossover revealed on Tuesday as part of the company’s Detroit Speed Week push, the company designed the Charger Daytona as a muscle car first and an EV second.
“When we started this program, we never thought ‘let’s design an electric car.’ We thought, ‘let’s design a modern fast muscle car.’ That’s really that was the objective,” Scott Krugger, head of Dodge Exterior Design told Newsweek. “The profile of the car is very, very swept. There’s a lot of aerodynamics in this vehicle. We kind of distilled the design down to the essence of what a muscle car was for us. We didn’t want people to look at this car and see a retro design. We want people to look at us and those that know will say ‘yeah, that’s a nod to history.'”
“But not losing that brutality, not losing that aggression that our vehicles are known for. Just to sum up the exterior design it’s big and it’s bold and unapologetic. It’s the way we do muscle,” said Krugger.
And that makes the most sense, Dodge is creating an electric vehicle because it must, but doing it in a signature Dodge way.
“The Dodge Charger Daytona SRT concept is exactly what a Dodge EV muscle car should be—focusing on the emotional connection and a formula that stands out from the crowd. The transition from ICE to EV for this segment and buyer will be particularly challenging, as muscle cars come with such storied histories and grassroots participation, with skepticism at least as high as in the truck segment. The concept shows that Dodge understands what the challenge is and how to meet it. The Hornet is meant to help support that journey as well, showing electrification as a path to higher performance levels,” Stephanie Brinley, principal analyst at S&P Global told Newsweek.
“The storyline is well supported; success will be about executing well and having the patience to bring skeptical customers along. It might take some seeing the production version and having direct experience to really be converted. Especially in the past year, consumers seem increasingly open to electrification, which means the job might also end up not being quite as difficult as Dodge expected when they put this vision together,” Brinley said.
Also new to the electric vehicle market is Dodge’s eRupt transmission. Most EVs use a single or two-speed transmission, but Dodge says the Charger Daytona will get a multi-speed EV transmission with electromechanical shifting. It will feel more like a traditional transmission.
A 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system rests at the center of the Charger Daytona’s cabin. That’s complemented by a 16-inch driver display and an 8-inch head up display. Ambient lighting is standard and circuit-like graphics adorn the surfaces. The floor is carbon fiber and the accelerator pedal features a lightning bolt.
The steering wheel is squared off and features the PowerShot button that turns all settings to maximum output for a short period of time. Both the wheel and doors feature capacitive touch controls while an illuminated SRT logo takes its place on the steering wheel. The seats are lightweight and slim, and feature the Fratzog logo.
“We wanted to create something dark and sinister. It kind of set the tone for us as we went forward into the interior,” Jeff Gale, Chief Designer, Dodge Interior Design told Newsweek. “So that’s where you see some of that Ultraviolet, which is the name of that kind of dark reddish color. We wanted to stay close to our roots but move toward the future and we’ve done that. Visceral, of course, but there’s a certain brutality with some of the graphics that you see, especially the textures.”
The Charger Dayton has places for four passengers, and rear seats that fold down leaving a ton of space for storage. Dodge is calling it a three-door because of the hatchback, and says that it can be used even with an active lifestyle.
“The hatchback allows access to the back seats, and just imagine with a flat floor configuration you can take anything that you might want. Whether it be drivers putting gear here for the drag strip or whether or something like a snowboarder with an active lifestyle outdoors. It’s all wheel drive. So why not? As we worked through the design of this, the floor, the seats, the instrument panel, the lightweight almost supercar-like nature of it just came out awesome. And I couldn’t be more excited,” said Gale.
This concept portends a real car, Dodge says, beginning a new era of electric muscle.
“Is this a science project? Absolutely not. Some kinds of hardware are a science project, this one is not. We wanted to do something different,” said Kuniskis. “We didn’t want to go into that space and have something like everybody else. Everybody else is going with a two-box design because of the battery. You guys know where that person is going. We’re trying to go the exact opposite direction and hopefully that tells you enough about what we’re trying to do.”