The Dodge Challenger Is Dead and (Probably) Not Coming Back. Here's Why

2018 dodge challenger srt hellcat widebody
The Dodge Challenger Is Dead and Not Coming BackFCA US LLC

It’s been a rough year for the muscle car faithful. Chevrolet’s Camaro died yet another slow death at the end of the last model year, joined in that big parking lot in the sky by the long-running Dodge Charger and Challenger twins. While Mopar fans can rejoice in the fact that the Charger nameplate has already returned in both BEV and an upcoming combustion-powered form, don't get your hopes up about a Challenger revival quite yet.

Naturally, one of the first questions journalists posed to Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis at the reveal event for the new Dodge Charger Daytona was related to the Challenger nameplate and the possibility of a return. Kuniskis did not mince words about the defunct muscle car name, keeping his answer brief.

“We own the Challenger nameplate,” Kuniskis told the media at the Charger Daytona’s debut. “We own a whole bunch of nameplates we got in the drawer. So I don't know what we'll do with it if we ever do anything with it, but not using that on this car."

While it might initially seem strange that Dodge has decided to resurrect the Charger nameplate for a sedan and a coupe—especially after all of the groanings the automaker went through when it stuck the name on a sedan for the first time for 2006—Kuniskis was happy to share the brand’s reasoning during an interview with R&T.

2024 dodge charger daytona

“When we looked at how we were going to execute this, one of the things we wanted to do, we wanted to hedge against uncertainty, which is always very important in this industry,” Kuniskis said. “So we wanted to make sure that we had this very flexible platform that could do ICE, it could do 400-volt, it could do 800-volt, and it could do a two-door, and it could do a four-door and flex anywhere in there that we need it to depending on what was going on with one supply base, one manufacturing footprint and all of that. We wanted to make sure that we had maximum commonality to be able to do that. Now that meant that the cars were going to have a very similar character, which meant very early on we decided that we needed one name.”

Kuniskis went on to explain that the outgoing Charger was the main driver behind the brand having the youngest customer base within the U.S. market. With younger customers already more accepting of the idea of an electric vehicle, and the obvious pun, the Charger name quickly proved more appealing than Challenger. The new Charger lineup is also expansive, containing both EV and internal combustion powertrains, each offering several states of tune. There will also be coupe and sedan variants available for all of those offerings, leaving little ground for a Challenger to feel truly different. All of that together doesn’t bode all that well for the future of the Challenger nameplate

2024 dodge charger daytona

Unless Dodge is willing to develop another muscle car on one of Stellantis’ smaller EV platforms, there’s just no place for the Challenger to live on in the coming EV era. That’s a shame, even if the Charger should've always been a coupe after all.

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