For all you muscle car fans out there who are saddened because Dodge is planning to stop producing the Charger and Challenger, take heart. During the Dodge Speed Week event in Pontiac, Michigan this week, the company unveiled its Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept, an electric all-wheel drive car that will blow the doors off any combustion engine-powered production car ever manufactured by Dodge.
The press release accompanying the reveal eschews understatement. “The Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept muscles aside the boring BEV paradigm and replaces it with an electrified vehicle unlike any on the road today. A new propulsion system drives the Charger Daytona SRT Concept with performance that exceeds the Dodge brand’s famed SRT Hellcat engine, accompanied by an industry-first BEV exhaust sound.” The Concept “Drives like a Dodge, looks like a Dodge, and feels like Dodge,” the company says.
The Concept is an homage to the company’s past. The Daytona name pays tribute to the 1969 Dodge Charger that was the first car to break 200 mph on a NASCAR race track. The styling is a faithful recreation of the current production car which itself reflects the look of muscle cars from long ago, but is subtly tweaked to increase aerodynamic efficiency.
The whole car carries forward the chunky, iron fist in a velvet glove look of the current cars, but look closely and you will see a slot — what Dodge calls an R-Wing — at the front that directs air up and over the hood. The squared off roofline has been smoothed considerably to improve airflow. Inside EVs points out that there are carbon fiber intakes tucked into both sides of the front and rear lower fascias that provide an air curtain to further reduce drag.
Fratzonic Sound Chamber & Electro-Mechanical Shifter
A muscle car needs three things: a kickass engine, a shifter that looks like a girder from the Brooklyn Bridge, and an exhaust note that can wake the dead. The Charger Daytona SRT has all three. The 800 volt architecture and dual motor all-wheel drive powertrain — code named “Banshee” by Dodge — will sling the car down the track faster than even the infamous 700 horsepower Dodge Hellcat. The eRupt transmission with electro-mechanical shifting provides the fun of lightning-fast gear changes. And Dodge has created a first in the new electric car era, the Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust.
Curious about where the word “fratzonic” comes from? It’s derived from the Fratzog badge that graced Dodge muscle cars from 1962 through 1976. It has three arms with a circle in the middle and some of you will think it would look perfectly at home on a Mazda RX-7 with its unique trochoidal rotary engine. The Fratzog badge is displayed proudly at the front of the concept, and of course it is lighted when the car is in motion.
As Bloomberg Hyperdrive explains it, Dodge engineers took the firing order of a V-8 engine and used it to create a sound that’s amplified with air pushed through a chambered exhaust system. The result is a V-8 like rumble at low engine speeds and a 126 dB shriek under full acceleration. Wake up, people! That’s a DODGE you hear passing you in the high speed lane. Tim Kuniskis, the head honcho at Dodge, says that sound is what distinguishes a Dodge from what he calls the “nothingburgers” ordinary people drive. You can hear it in action near the end of the video below.
“The Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept exists because performance made us do it,” Kuniskis says. “Dodge is about muscle, attitude, and performance, and the brand carries that chip on its shoulder and into the BEV segment through a concept loaded with patents, innovations, and performance features that embody the electrified muscle of tomorrow. The Charger Daytona SRT Concept can do more than run the car show circuit; it can run a blazing quarter mile. And when it comes to product cycles, it outruns Darwin. Charger Daytona does more than define where Dodge is headed, it will redefine American muscle in the process.”
The car will have a Power Shot button on the steering wheel that will deliver a quick burst of acceleration. It also has Auto, Sport, Track, and Drag modes the driver can select to change the driving dynamics.
Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Pays Tribute To Its Heritage
Much of the popularity of the Dodge brand is related to racing, particularly drag racing. Herman Young runs a drag racing YouTube channel called Demonology. (Demon is a label Dodge applies to its most powerful cars.) He told Bloomberg in Michigan this week, “If they’re gonna jump into this electric game, they need to be the king of electricity. They need to come with the power.”
Young isn’t resisting the EV revolution — his wife drives a Tesla Model Y — but he’s wistful when he talks about how quiet EVs are and what this will mean for the brotherhood of muscle. “Humans, we equate speed with sound and until we get used to making that adjustment, it’s going to take some of the excitement out of it. Sound is power in the era we grew up.”
He’s not wrong. The sound of an internal combustion engine is a visceral things that speaks to us in a primal way. The shriek of a V-10 Formula One engine churning down the back straight at Indianapolis Motor Speedway at close to 20,000 rpm would make your ears bleed and put a smile on your face as wide as the Pacific Ocean!
Speaking with Bloomberg this week in Michigan, Stephanie Brinley, an analyst for S&P Global Mobility, said about the Dodge Charger SRT Concept, “It’s opening as many questions as it’s answering, with all the sound and the multi-speed transmission. What it says most importantly is, ‘We will still be a muscle car, we will still give you that visceral reaction, we will be sure it triggers the emotions that the current car does.’”
Electric cars are different. Some people fear anything that is different. Harley-Davidson owners ride a Harley because it sounds like a Harley and that sound evokes an emotional response. Nobody asks what sort of mileage a Harley gets or how far it can go on a tankful of gasoline. If you are asking those questions, you are missing the whole point.
No one wants to know how much range the Dodge Challenger Daytona SRT has or how fast it can charge using a 350 kW EV charger. Those questions are irrelevant. Some may quibble that making a Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust is about as useful as making a machine to deposit replicas of horse droppings in the road behind a Model T. But they miss the point.
The production car will appeal to people who might never consider a “nothingburger” electric car. Once they are behind the wheel, the owners of these cars will learn about charging at home and starting every day with a full battery. They will learn about range and fast charging and regenerative braking and all the things that make driving an electric car so enjoyable.
Then they will tell their friends and co-workers and the people they meet at the drag strip about their cars and the EV revolution will move forward another notch. You may not covet one of these cars, but be grateful that Dodge has decided to make them. A whole generation of internal combustion powered cars is going out of production, to be replaced by fully electric cars. That should be cause for celebration.
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