Pontiac — It’s official: Dodge is ending production of the Challenger and Charger in their current form in December 2023 ahead of the launch of its all-electric muscle car in 2024.
To help customers who want one of the gas-powered vehicles with a “Last Call” underhood plaque, Stellantis NV’s performance brand in October will have on its website the details of where vehicles will be allocated for the final year of production and how many each dealer will receive through the rest of the run. The inventory of unsold vehicles will be updated weekly, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis said. Pricing for the 2023 model year has yet to be shared.
The confirmation is part of the first of a three-day series of announcements and reveals at M1 Concourse in Pontiac during what Dodge has dubbed as “Speed Week” between this past weekend’s Roadkill Nights street drag racing event and Saturday’s Woodward Dream Cruise.
As a final sendoff, Dodge in the coming weeks will reveal seven 2023 special-edition muscle car models that will go to top dealerships like a “sneaker drop,” Kuniskis said. The performance brand also is bringing back the Durango Hellcat for 2023, introducing a slew of new Direct Connection parts and has partnered with a customization shop for customers to get a convertible Challenger.
“Day one is all our current cars, all about how much more we can jam into and get out of our current cars before they go out of production,” Kuniskis said. “We want to make sure we’re celebrating these cars properly.”
Six of the special-edition vehicles for the outgoing muscle cars will pay homage to Dodge vehicles from the past, and a seventh will be the final special edition shown at the 2022 SEMA Show Nov. 1-4 in Las Vegas. Its license plate, “1FAST29,” is a hint, Kuniskis said.
“That one is making history,” he said. “And that one is the one that is going to make Brampton really proud,” Kuniskis, added, referring to the plant in Ontario where the Challenger and Charger are built.
Customers won’t be able to order these versions. Dodge will produce the vehicles and provide them to dealers as additional inventory, which also will be updated on Dodge’s website.
Tracking the details of pricing, inventory and builds is a lot, Kuniskis said, but it’s an effort made to be transparent: “That way every customer knows, ‘I know where to go to get a car. I know where to go to get an order.’ You’re going to have to go fast, because we’re going to count down. This guy’s going to have 15, then he’s going to have 10, then he’s going to have zero.”
The effort comes amid a series of supply-chain disruptions in the auto industry, particularly a shortage of semiconductors that could last into 2024. The Dodge team says it’s working to ensure it has confidence in its microchip supply to deliver the vehicles it says it will allocate to its dealers.
The regular Durango will continue to be produced at Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit beyond 2023, Kuniskis said. Brampton Assembly Plant outside of Toronto has built more than three million Challengers and Chargers since 2005, totaling around 1 billion horsepower, according to the company. Last year, the Challenger was the top-selling muscle car in the United States.
“I’m surprised they lasted this long,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal e-mobility analyst at market research firm Guidehouse Inc., noting that the vehicle platform’s roots date to the DaimlerChrysler days. “It tells you how good of a platform to begin with. Dodge has done a remarkable job of keeping them fresh and appealing. Where you look at where the market is going, there’s not a future place for those vehicles. With fuel economy and emission standards, the Hellcat was always living on borrowed time.”
Dodge’s effort is a careful sendoff that isn’t seen in the industry often, said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst for S&P Global Mobility: “When a vehicle goes out of production, it’s usually because it’s no longer popular. It’s something you don’t want to celebrate.
“In this case, change is happening, and the brand is going in a different direction. You have a storied muscle car that has enthusiasts, people passionate about it.”
Stellantis already has said it will retool Brampton for an electrified platform starting in 2024 with production resuming in 2025 as a part of a $2.8 billion investment in its Ontario operations. Stellantis hasn’t said where the electric muscle car will be built, though industry forecasters predict it could go to Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, which currently builds the Jeep Cherokee crossover.
The Last Call commemorations will denote the vehicles were designed in Auburn Hills and made in Brampton.
The 2023 lineup also includes the 717-horsepower two-door Challenger and four-door Charger SRT Jailbreak models as well as the return of the Durango SRT Hellcat. Dodge previously offered the V8-powered, 710-horsepower SUV with limited production for model year 2021, because of evaporative emissions limitations for the platform. Micky Bly, head of global propulsion systems for Stellantis, says some tweaking of the engine calibration solved the issue, allowing the automaker to bring back the offering by popular demand starting in September.
“One good thing that came out of COVID, if there was one good thing,” Kuniskis said, “is the supply-chain disruption gave some people more time to get creative and think of things.”
Dodge also has partnered with Drop Top Customs to offer a Challenger convertible for $25,999. The company will ship the vehicle from Bampton to the Florida-based customization shop and work with dealers to deliver it to buyers. Orders open Tuesday.
For those more interested in building their own drag car, Dodge also will offer a $89,999 Challenger Mopar Drag Pak Rolling Chassis without an engine or transmission through its Direct Connection program. Customers also can buy a Challenger body-in-white kit for $7,995.
Direct Connection also partnered with Wisconsin’s SpeedKore Performance Group for carbon fiber body panels of the modern-era Challenger. Future Direct Connection-licensed carbon-fiber bodies through FInale Speed will include the 1970 Dodge Charger as well as the Plymouth Barracuda and Road Runner.
Tuner kits and Scat Pak transmissions also will be available. Customers can order Direct Connection parts through Dodge Power Brokers dealerships and online. More details on the offerings will come at SEMA.
For 2023, Dodge also is making available heritage exterior colors B5 Blue, Plum Crazy purple and Sublime green as well as the modern Destroyer Grey.
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