End of an Dodge Charger and Challenger era?

End of an Dodge Charger and Challenger era?

Evans laments the axing of the Dodge Charger and Challenger after 2023, victims of overzealous political ambitions…

In August, Stellantis (previously Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) announced that it was axing its beloved muscle cars, the Dodge Charger and Challenger, after 2023. The reasons cited are the inability to meet tougher fuel economy and emissions standards, despite both models continuing to be relatively popular. The timing of the announcement coincides with the introduction of President Biden’s controversial Inflation Reduction Act, a gigantic spending package, that contains a whole host of so-called green initiatives including a whopping $36 billion for incentivising electric vehicle adoption, as well as energy efficient home heating and cooling solutions.

During the first day of Dodge Speedweek on August 15, Dodge brand CEO Tim Kuniskis said that the 2023 Dodge Challenger and Charger will be the last of the Hemi-powered L-cars the company will build and once that window closes “there will be no reopening it”. Kuniskis had previously stated that the days of an iron-block supercharged V8 were numbered; now we know exactly how numbered they are.

Production of the hallowed Challenger and Charger will end at the Brampton, Ontario assembly plant in December 2023. So if you really want a brand-new Hemi Charger or Challenger, get your order in while you still can. Since the L-car platform was first introduced back in 2004 with the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum, almost three million Dodge muscle cars have rolled off the Brampton assembly lines. That’s an impressive feat, especially in the age of the nanny state. Yet those nanny state regulations are a major reason why Dodge has chosen to end production. Kuniskis went on the record saying that the compliance fines for continuing to meet emissions with these cars is becoming increasingly cost prohibitive. If it weren’t for governments pushing aggressive (and some say unrealistic and largely pointless) zero-emissions targets, chances are these cars would continue being manufactured, since many people in North America still love a good ol’ fashioned V8.

Kuniskis was quick to say that while the traditional pushrod V8 may no longer continue in production, performance itself is far from dead. Dodge has revealed the 2024 Charger Daytona SRT, a battery-powered concept car – one that even features a so-called Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust designed to simulate the soundtrack for those that miss the rumble of proper musclebound V8. Despite strong performance and styling cues reminiscent of the hallowed 1968-70 Charger, it’s still somewhat difficult to imagine an EV taking up the mantle of true American horsepower, though given the options available at this time, there’s no question that the boys and girls at Dodge are doing their very best to keep musclebound performance alive.

Getting back to the current Challenger and Charger, which despite having just one more year to run in current form, will, when they do bow out, go with an absolute bang. Dodge has announced that it will be introducing seven special ‘heritage influenced’ models, with the details on six of them to be released later this year and the final one being introduced at the 2022 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, which runs from November 1-4.

Although it does appear the coming decade could be a sad one for performance fans, the one constant we do face in this world is change. I kind of liken the current global situation to 50 years ago, back in 1973. Back then muscle cars were dying out, driven by draconian government fuel and emissions regulations, while the economy struggled with stagnant growth, rising inflation and a lack of political leadership in many countries, similar to what we are seeing now. A decade later and things started to turn around again, with an emphasis once again on performance and free-market economics. Could that be the case in the 2030s? It’s difficult to know at this point, but I will say this. History has a habit of repeating itself and despite government attempts to curb freedoms and follow questionable environmental and economic narratives, I for one, don’t think muscle cars and driving fun are going away anytime soon. In fact, they could be back again with a vengeance…

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