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Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept Previews America’s First Electric Muscle Car

dodge-charger-daytona-srt-concept-01-concept-oem Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept | Manufacturer image

The winds of change are blowing hard, and the days of the big V-8 muscle car are just about done, which means the Dodge brand, makers of the Challenger and Charger that offer multiple V-8 engines, has a serious problem to solve. The push for electrification of the world’s automobiles is accelerating, and, as such, Dodge has announced the Challenger coupe and Charger sedan will stop production at the end of 2023, marking the end of Dodge’s powerful V-8 sports cars and the beginning of a new era of electrification. But what exactly will an electric Dodge muscle car look like?

Well, wonder no more: This is it, the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept.

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This Charger concept is the electric car for Dodge-brand loyalists who wouldn’t be caught dead in a soulless, spartan, jellybean-styled Tesla Model S. Dodge hasn’t released full details of things like the powertrain, range or even horsepower numbers, meaning the Charger Daytona SRT Concept isn’t exactly what we’ll be seeing in 2024 to replace the Charger and Challenger in Dodge showrooms. But according to Dodge brand head Tim Kuniskis, “This is not a science project.” This is largely what we can expect to see replacing Dodge’s popular muscle car duo, as much a sneak peek into what’s coming as it is a concept car interest-grabber.

So, what makes the Charger Daytona SRT Concept so unusual? There are three completely unique patented features in the concept, all of which “are producible,” according to Kuniskis, which will help create the world’s first American electric muscle car.

The Way It Looks

The overall look of the concept is very obviously inspired by the 1968 Dodge Charger — the shape, flat front end with the deep illuminated ring, and soaring rear buttresses that blend into the trunk (which isn’t actually a trunk because this concept is a three-door hatchback). The illuminated three-pointed thing in the middle of the grille will be the new symbol for electrified Dodges, called the “Fratzog.” The badge first featured on Dodge muscle cars from 1962 through 1976 as a symbol with no context, but Dodge now says it will represent its electrification efforts going forward. And yes, it is not lost on us that this vehicle marks a return to the two-door Charger — Dodge got a lot of grief for naming its 2005 replacement for the Intrepid sedan “Charger” when that model had historically always been a coupe. This seems to be a move to undo that wrong.

But the patented system for the styling is up front: the R-Wing front aerodynamic wing that allows the car to retain a classic Dodge retro profile while still achieving aerodynamic efficiencies, according to the company. Air flows through the front grille and then over a recessed area between the wheels and up along the hood. Looking at the car from the front or sides, you’d never know it was there, but the fact that there’s no thumpin’ V-8 under the long, low hood means that designers could play with the space to make the R-Wing functional. Does this mean there’s no frunk in the concept? Dodge wouldn’t say, but there is at least a hood cutout, so presumably, something opens up there.

The overall look of the car is essentially what one would expect from the Dodge brand — it’s not going to make an anonymous bar-of-soap shape that looks like everything else. Its designers are going to take inspiration from the past and make something that its current owners will want to have. In that sense Dodge has nailed the styling: The car is long and low, and it’s not hard to envision it having a four-door model. It’s also a four-seat coupe, with four individual sport bucket seats, but the rear ones actually fold flat to create a cavernous cargo area.

The dash, doors and console are best described as “wicked.” Black-and-red accents abound, as does plentiful red light illumination of various parts of the cabin. Touchscreens are prevalent inside, as they are on many new vehicles these days, but not exclusively. The central screen is a 12.3-inch unit angled nearly 10 degrees toward the driver, while the instrument cluster is a 16-inch digital display. Above that resides an 8-by-3-inch head-up display, while the rest of the carbon-fiber interior wraps around occupants with a 3D-textured feel to the upper and lower instrument panels done in blue-and-silver accent stitching.

The overall aesthetic is not so much futuristic and zoomy as sinister and foreboding. It is very much an anti-Tesla. And it is absolutely badass. Part of the conceptual board while creating the car depicted the fictional assassin John Wick, portrayed by Keanu Reeves, from the namesake movies. One could very easily see him owning this vehicle.

The Way It Works

We’re not sure what actually powers the Charger Daytona SRT Concept, but Dodge says we should get used to hearing a new name join the storied ranks of Hemi, Hellcat and Redeye: Banshee. It’s what Dodge is naming the supposed 800-volt electric powertrain that underpins this concept, but we have no information about the size of the battery, its capacity, its charging ability or the vehicle’s purported range or power output. Dodge says that the Charger Daytona SRT Concept is all-wheel-drive, however, so one assumes it has at least two motors on board, one fore and one aft.

What it definitely has, however, is something decidedly interesting: the second patent-pending system for the Charger Daytona SRT Concept called eRupt. That’s a multispeed transmission with electromechanical shifting that Dodge says will help simulate the feel of an internal-combustion engine’s acceleration experience, generating pauses in the forward movement for gear changes to help the Charger Daytona feel more like a traditional gas-powered muscle car. The acceleration will throw you back in the seats, as Dodge claims the Charger Daytona is quicker than any Hellcat-powered vehicle the brand has made, but the eRupt system will toss you forward in the seats as it “changes gears.”

When asked by one reporter what benefit this system had to performance or efficiency of the vehicle, Kuniskis responded: “None. It’s just badass.” Details of the system are slim, like much of the rest of the tech specs, such as if this is a true geared transmission, how many gears there are, where in the vehicle it’s located, etc. But again, Dodge says that it’s definitely producible, so expect to see it in a future Dodge EV.

The Way It … Sounds?

Dodge intends on having its EVs make very specific noises aimed at helping ease traditional owners transitioning out of their Challenger Hellcat and into an electric Charger Daytona. The third patent-pending system Dodge is introducing aids that, a thing called the Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust. Yep, this electric car has exhaust pipes that deliver up to 126 decibels of simulated engine noise — but it’s a sound unlike anything produced on an electric car to date.

It’s hard to describe, but here it goes: Imagine a Hellcat engine’s V-8 rumble combined with a “Tron” Lightcycle electronic tone, as delivered by Mechagodzilla. Details on the Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust are slim, but Kuniskis likened it to an electronic pipe organ. It’s not just a speaker; the sound is amplified and pushed through a tuning chamber at the rear of the vehicle. It’s loud, it’s spooky, it revs in sync with throttle application and pauses in sync with the eRupt transmission, and when you experience it, you just kind of nod and say, “Yeah, that fits, doesn’t it?”

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How Real Is It?

Dodge may be calling this a concept car, but this might be more accurately described as a “noncept” car. Kuniskis kept referring to production plans and what kinds of versions the brand plans to offer when something very close to what you see here goes on sale in 2024. According to him, there will be three different levels of performance for the car using 400-volt and 800-volt architecture, and customers can upgrade using the Dodge Direct Connection aftermarket parts upgrade service. Some of those upgrade “stage” kits will be electronic, deliverable via over-the-air transmissions, and some will involve a trip to a Dodge dealer to have additional equipment like suspension and brake upgrades installed.

Kuniskis was again cagey about whether this vehicle will replace both the two-door Challenger and four-door Charger in the lineup, saying stay tuned. Given what Dodge has shown here as a peek into the not-too-distant future and just how different it is from every other EV we’ve seen in every other automaker’s plans, we’ll be eagerly awaiting to see how this concept translates into a production car sometime in the next two years.

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