By Dave Ashton

The rumblings around muscle cars turning electric have been in the mainstream news for over 12 months now. Dodge has been the center of focus in this regard as they are soon to reveal their future EV plans. The announcement will be compounded by the fact Dodge is arguably the last vestiges of the traditional American V8 template. A long history that is seemingly coming to an end, or is it?

A long time to go……

Given the present sales run of the Dodge Charger and Challenger in current model form, from 2006 for the Charger and 2008 for the Challenger, even if they stopped production today, that’s a long lifespan for any model.

The move from ICE’s to Ev’s is going to be a very slow change of the guard. Dodge has announced that 50% of its lineup will be BEV’s by 2030. Thus, in 8 years half the Dodge line will still be gasoline powered. Rumors suggest plenty of V8-powered 400 and 500 HP monsters will hit the streets up to 2030, with a possible new version of the Hellcat.

But, but as many of us oldies know, 8 years can go very quickly. We are also more concerned with the future of the hallowed names of the Charger and Challenger in V8 form.
Even if Dodge announced the Charger and Challenger were going electric in 100 years, there would still be the same amount of uproar. To the rest of the world who don’t get the muscle car thing, it’s not just about replacing an engine block with fancy electrics, it’s a cultural and generational thing, acutely woven into many people’s lives. Take something familiar away from a group and you’re going to get resistance, no matter how good the future versions are predicted.

Back to the Future

We have already had a glimpse of how the public reacts to an iconic pony/muscle car turning electric. The Mustang SUV thingy received acceptance by the skin of its teeth as it didn’t replace the car version, just borrowed the name. Until everybody knew this SUV was a separate thing, the world was not at ease.

Dodge are acutely aware of their own muscle car history. Thus the very slow transition from gasoline to Ev’s to ease everybody into the idea. But looking forward to a decade from now, we guess the sentiments will be the same, a yearning for the rumble of a traditional V8.

However, a look back in history could explain the future.
During the golden era of muscle cars from the late nineteen sixties to the early nineteen seventies, these vehicles are now classics. They are still being driven, maintained, and enjoyed. Obviously, they can’t be bought new anymore (unless you split the difference and buy a restomod), but they can still be owned, enjoyed, and driven.

We are guessing it will be the same for all gasoline-powered cars in the future. Thus, the current descent is not about future availability or ownership, but the end of the V8-powered muscle car being constantly developed and improved. It’s a bit like your favorite rock act turning into a synthpop band. The same guys, with the same name, it’s just a different thing.

Smartphones on wheels

EV’s are going to be intelligent, and with all that instant torque you’re going to enjoy burnouts for days. Going off the top performance EV’s currently available, future E-muscle cars will probably have more power. But it’s a bit like the difference between digital and analog watches.

Analog watches need more maintenance, are more costly, and can’t do as much as a digital watch. But we respect them for their unique qualities. The same will go for V8-powered muscle cars ultimately.

More than likely, the powers that be who’ve all agreed EV’s are the future, will also have a rare classic ICE car tucked away somewhere or know someone who has one. Thus, Legislation will be tighter in the future, but we still will be able to drive our muscle cars, even if we have to fuel them with some sort futuristic juice.

Thus, the V8-powered muscle car isn’t going away. It’s just that the next generation has turned to synthpop….


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