Gearhead News

January 30, 2021
Dodge Boss Signals End of the Line for the V8 Hellcat Engine, But Not Its Performance

We’ve seen the (electric) writing on the wall. GM has planted its flag on the promise of 30 new global electric vehicles by 2025. Ford’s making an all-electric F-150. Even Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis is excited about electrification and the power behind it, telling CNBC this week that new supercharged V8s are not long for this world. But before you start buying up all of the Hellcats you can get your hands on, consider the future of electrified muscle cars and the kind of torque and power these companies are harnessing already. Performance will increase even if the big Hemi as we know it will eventually fade into the sunset.

“The days of an iron block supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 are numbered,” Kuniskis told CNBC. “They’re absolutely numbered because of all the compliance costs. But the performance that those vehicles generate is not numbered.”

Dodge

Brothers and brand founders John and Horace Dodge had hell-raising reputations, their pugilistic tendencies underscoring steel backbones. That translated to fierce competitiveness in the market. Their first car out of the gate when they started their own company had pointedly more horsepower than Ford’s Model T and the company never stopped its pursuit of faster and more powerful cars. They would surely be proud of today’s Dodge muscle cars, and especially the loud-and-proud Hellcat line. They probably didn’t see this electrification trend coming, but as long as Dodge could come out on top, they’d roll with it. Ironically, Horace Dodge died in 1920 of the flu during the fateful pandemic of the time. Dodge today is not going to let the Hellcat go the same route during this one.   

This isn’t the first time Dodge has recognized the electric wave, and a strong indicator was the one-year run of the Durango Hellcat for 2021. One year at a time, Dodge has been hedging its bets about the gas-powered vehicles that have been its bread and butter since 2014. Kuniskis is savvy, though, and he knows how to peer into the future and be ready to pivot even while giving his customers what they want.

Kuniskis told CNBC that he calls electrification “Performance 2.0” and it will save the new “Golden Age of muscle cars.”

Back in August of last year, he said during a Texas Auto Writers Association event that he was looking down the road to see how Dodge could continue as America’s sweetheart of performance brands.

“It’s going to be about performance, power, and muscle cars. That’s what we want,” Kuniskis said. “And at that same point, we said ok, what is the future going to be?”

The key is electrification going mainstream, and it’s clearly here at our doorstep with Formula E and automakers around the world declaring their intent to go hybrid and all-electric. 

“That’s when the hot rodders will grab electrification,” Kuniskis said. “They’ll retune it for performance, and it will be just like when the industry switched to fuel injection from a carburetor. People will want electrification then because it will be the most competitive car out there. I’m super excited about the future; it’s not just that it is going to be different. It’s going to better than anything we have ever seen.”

Got a tip? Send us a note: tips@thedrive.com