Dodge unveiled its first electric car on Wednesday night, but Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis said he is not getting into the electric car business, so to speak.
“I’m not going to try to sell anyone an electric car. I will never market an electric car,” he told FOX Business in an exclusive interview.
“We will market a better muscle car with performance that happens to be enabled by the use of electrification.”
The Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept is a preview of a model that is set to go on sale at the end of next year and features the brand’s classic muscle car styling wrapped around a battery-powered platform.
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Full details were not released, but Kuniskis said the all-wheel-drive car will be available with more power and better performance that the brand’s top V8-powered muscle cars today, which have up to 807 hp and can accelerate to 60 mph in less than three seconds.
Tesla already makes electric cars that are that quick, but Dodge has added a few features to make its EV more exciting. They include an “exhaust” system modeled after a pipe organ and a multi-speed transmission that makes the vehicle less efficient, but offers the thrills of being thrown back into the seat with each gear change.
“A muscle car is more than numbers, we say performance is an attitude, and to have attitude to be a muscle car, you have got to have more than just some quick-accelerating electric car,” Kuniskis said.
“You’ve got to have that visceral feel, you’ve got to have sound, you’ve got to have the emotion of that shifting experience, you’ve got to have the full package.”
Dodge is going all-in on electric muscle cars and has announced that its internal combustion engine models will be discontinued just as the Charger Daytona is coming to market, even as Ford is set to introduce a new V8-powered Mustang with a manual transmission for 2024. Kuniskis said he is not concerned about losing customers to its rival.
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“Will some [Dodge muscle car fans] not follow? Yes. But the hope is, with enough lead time and a proper execution from us maybe we’ll bring some new ones into the fold.”
Pricing has not been released, but Dodge sold around 125,000 gasoline-powered Chargers and Challengers last year at prices ranging from the low-$30K range to nearly $100K and Kuniskis hopes IT will be able to stay near that sweet spot.
“Just because you transition to electrification. People aren’t going to be prepared to spend a ton more money,” he said.
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With over $500 billion committed by the automotive industry toward the transition to electrification, and the government investing $5 billion to improve the nationwide charging network, Kuniskis said the train has left the station and there’s no turning back. Now it’s on the automakers to make it stick.
“We’ve got to deliver a product that’s better than the one customers can buy today.”
“You can give them subsidies, but they’re not going to switch unless the product offering is better and the infrastructure is there.”