By Dave Ashton
The elephant in the room for most muscle car fans is a slow onslaught of electric vehicles. If we recognize the fact or not, anybody with a passing interest in muscle car is wondering how the mighty V8 engine will fit into this new world. Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis has recently addressed this issue in an interview with CNBC https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/26/dodge-boss-says-evs-can-save-americas-new-golden-age-of-muscle-cars.html stating, ‘The days of an iron block supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 are numbered.’ But he continues to say, ‘They’re absolutely numbered because of all the compliance costs. But the performance that those vehicles generate is not numbered.’
Mr. Kuniskis continues by turning a negative into a positive showing that the ‘golden age of muscle cars’ can be saved by either all-electric or hybrid vehicles. This he calls ‘Performance 2.0.’ Basically, once the cost of EV technology starts to drop, performance-based vehicles will emerge.
The Current Lineup
The latest comments from Mr. Kuniskis may surprise some, especially when the Dodge Charger and Challenger are still selling in droves. According to Mr. Kuniskis, 50,000 Hellcats have been sold over the last 5 years. This means that we are not going to see any drastic changes over the next few years. However, the discussion point is more about what’s lurking over the horizon.
Most of the thought process comes from looking back at the original golden age of muscle cars from the late 1960s and early 1970s. The original performance muscle cars were popularized by blue-collar types. Eventually, the vehicles succumbed to national regulations, producing what was supposedly more fuel-friendly vehicles. Those fuel-friendly cruisers also changed their body design, which most would argue was a shadow of their former selves.
The same scenario seems to be looming for current muscle cars. In 1972 huge displacement engines got hit on all sides. Safety parameters increased, as with insurance costs and overall standards of emissions. While there were standout examples of muscle cars along the way, it still took a good few decades for those vehicles to hit a sweet spot. Therefore, planning for the future seems to be the wisest move at this point. As Mr. Kuniskis further states, ‘Without that technology, without electrification. This is 1972 right now, this thing is going to end.’
The Way Forward for EV Muscle Cars
Now Fiat Chrysler has become the conglomerate of Stellantis(linking up with French automakers PSA), shared platforms, ideas and technology are sure to emerge.
Dodge doesn’t currently offer any type of electric vehicle, but that is sure to change over the coming years. Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares recently said that new vehicles up to 2025 will be offered with an electric equivalent.
Ford to go Electric by 2028[embedded content]
The video above at 4:30 from Autoline Daily shows that Ford and the Mustang may be gearing up to go all-electric. The video prediction is a 2028 timeframe for an all-electric Mustang. But that doesn’t consider the reports of the S650 Mustang which could see the light of day by 2023. Some have said that the life-cycle of the S650 Mustang will clash with a 2028 all-electric Mustang release. This may push the Mustang EV forward to the end of the decade.
Ford has already shown glimmers of what could be in store for the future. The Mustang Lithium Concept was first shown at SEMA 2019, along with the Mustang Mach-E 1400. However, at this stage of the game, these designs are almost sealed units, without the ability to tune up as per the regular upgrades. It’s not like you can quickly add a new supercharger or strap on a turbo.
There is also talk of Ford releasing a 415cu/6.8L pushrod V8 into the Mustang. If this is true, the internal combustion engine still has many years ahead. The Coyote, Predator, and Voodoo V8 engines still have plenty of life left in them.
General Motors EV’s
At this point, it’s anybody’s guess if the 6th generation Chevrolet Camaro or further will turn electric or not. The next few years will see downtime for the sprightly pony car. However, the current Camaro’s home base of Lansing Grand River, which also makes the Cadillac CT4 and CT5 could be the center point. It would be no surprise if the Camaro emerges as a hybrid or full electric vehicle.
It’s clear at this stage that all the muscle car manufacturers are beavering away in the background working out how to take the best elements of a V8. The tricky balancing act of pushing the technology, while also respecting the past will be interesting to see emerge.
It’s likely that the introduction of a full-blown electric muscle car will be done in tentative steps. Gauging user feedback, with hopefully the ability to tune the engine. How the side benefits of the V8 engine will be addressed will also be interesting. The low-end rumble, tone, and as the Beachboys put it, good vibrations, will all need consideration.
Donate To Fast Muscle Car
We spend a lot of time bringing you muscle car content. If you would like to donate something to help us keep going, that would be fantastic.