What Is Going On With Dodge’s Next-Gen Muscle Cars?

Turbocharged Inline-Sixes, HEMI V8s, Battery-Electrics...

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of talk surrounding the next generation of Dodge muscle cars on the interwebs. Some have talked about the upcoming turbocharged inline-six-cylinder powertrain, some have talked about all-electric variants, and some have had comments about the vehicle’s styling direction. 

In this post, we figured we would go over what we know, things confirmed by our sources, as well as a few other rumors about the next-generation Dodge Challenger and Charger models.

Styling – 

A lot of people have been wondering about the design direction of the next generation of muscle cars and if Dodge would continue to be influenced by retro-elements of its famed muscle-car past, or move towards a more futuristic interpretation. 

1999 Dodge Charger R/T Concept. (Dodge).

The next-generation cars have been teased dating back to 2015, at a dealer event put on by the Chrysler Group in Las Vegas, Nevada. At that event, cellphones and cameras were taken from everyone who attended from the dealer body and they were presented with a look at some of the future products in the pipeline that included the Jeep Wrangler (JL), Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the Dodge Challenger ADR (American Drag Racer) – which would later become the Demon, an early interpretation of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer (WS), and two future Dodge muscle cars.

One of those muscle cars was a peek at the next-generation Dodge Charger (codenamed LF). People participating at the event said that car was even more influenced by the beloved 1999 Dodge Charger R/T Concept and featured a similar look from the B-pillar to the rear of the car. The front of the vehicle was much different and featured a more upright front and looked more upscale than the 2015 production model, with many people saying it looked like a BMW 7-Series at the time. 

1999 Dodge Charger R/T Concept. (Dodge).

Other than the company mentioning that the car would feature a stretched version of the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s “Giorgio” architecture, not much was shared about the car. It was stated that the design was in the final steps of being finalized onto a pathway towards production – which was then scheduled for 2018.

The other vehicle was a painted (or wrapped) clay model of a new two-door convertible that was dubbed “Barracuda”. The Dodge Barracuda was rolled out onto the floor and many people and the few accounts recorded by those who attended the event, stated that the Barracuda confused a lot of diehard Mopar people in the crowd due to connection with the Plymouth brand. It was said that the Barracuda was more of a futuristic design compared to the Challenger’s retro look and that the name and the design were being tested for feedback only.

2024 Dodge Charger Rendering. (MoparInsiders).

Since then, a lot of time has passed. The Challenger continues to hit sales records, despite having only two major mid-cycle-actions (MCAs) since it debuted in 2008. The Charger has continued to soldier on and continues to have success in the shrinking sedan market. 

In November 2016, the Chrysler Technical Center (also the home of Stellantis North America) in Auburn Hills, Michigan celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Auburn Hills complex and did an open house to select employees and their families. Cameras were allowed into the facility, with most of the future projects hidden from sight. But it didn’t stop people who visited the Dodge Design Studio from capturing some shots of proposed Challenger design studies (like the one below). 

Future Dodge Challenger Sketch From FCA Product Design Office. (MoparInsiders).

You can see a great review and a ton of photos of the open house, including a much larger shot of the Challenger renderings on Detroit Dvotion’s pages.

Future Challenger EV and Charger – 

During this year’s Stellantis EV Day 2021 presentation, we were teased by Dodge CEO, Tim Kuniskis in a 5-minute video of the intentions the brand was taking as it moves forward towards more electrification. The video showed Kuniskis pulling a car cover back, unveiling a corner of the front fascia of what appeared to be the next-generation Dodge Charger (which you can see below).

The video also gave us a tease of an all-new battery-electric vehicle (BEV) version of the Dodge Challenger (LB) in concept form. In a couple of recent interviews, Kuniskis explained that we would see this concept eMuscle car before the end of Q1 2022.

It is believed that this concept will showcase the upcoming BEV powertrain, which is rumored to feature a tri-motor setup of Stellantis’ 330 kW (or about 443 horsepower) electric motors and an all-wheel-drive system. That means the new Challenger BEV could have over 1,300 horsepower. Stellantis will also showcase its capability of 800-volt drive modules.

Front of the Dodge eMuscle Concept Car. (Dodge).

Kuniskis also explained in recent interviews, that the all-new electrified models coming to the Dodge lineup will feature the classic “Fratzog” logo to help differentiate them from the standard internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Those ICE models will continue to carry the current Dodge “rhombi” logo on their flanks.

Turbocharged Inline-Six – 

Speaking of ICE, the next-generation Dodge Challenger and Charger will offer an all-new turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine (codenamed GME-T6). The GME-T6 name comes from the Stellantis Global Medium Engine or “GME” family. The new inline-six has been in the works for several years and is something we have talked about over the last several years, time and time again.

Stellantis Patent filing drawing showing GME-T6. (USPTO).

Our sources have informed us that there will be three different variants of the GME-T6, finding its way under the hood of the new muscle car duo. The three variants include a standard output (S.O), a high output (H.O.), and a plug-in electric (PHEV).

In a previous article, we explained that our sources had stated that the GME-T6 was capable of 525 horsepower. However, we are unsure if that is around the final numbers for the H.O. or PHEV variants. Currently, the PHEV variant of the turbocharged 2.0-liter GME-T4 inline-four-cylinder that sits under the hood of the Jeep® Wrangler and Grand Cherokee 4xe models, produces 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. So a 525 horsepower rating for a PHEV variant, wouldn’t be a far cry from what the GME-T4 is capable of, despite being 1.0-liter smaller in displacement.

2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Chassis. (Jeep).

We expect that the current GME-T4-based 4xe powertrain will be similar to that of the upcoming GME-T6 PHEV. The 4xe powertrain integrates two electric motors (one engine-mounted motor-generation and one transmission-mounted motor-generator unit integrated into the 8-speed automatic transmission) and a 400-volt, 17-kWh, 96-cell lithium-ion battery pack that uses nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) graphite chemistry along with the GME-T4 engine. 

A high-voltage, liquid-cooled motor generator unit mounts at the front of the engine, replacing the conventional alternator. A robust belt connects the motor-generator to the engine crankshaft pulley. The motor-generator spins the engine for nearly seamless, fuel-saving, start-stop operation and generates electricity for the battery pack. The vehicle does not use a conventional 12-volt starter motor. The vehicle is equipped with a 12-volt battery to run accessories.

2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Chassis. (Jeep).

The second high-voltage motor-generator is mounted at the front of the transmission case, replacing the conventional torque converter of an automatic transmission.

Two clutches work to manage power and torque from the e-motor and engine. A binary clutch (on/off) is mounted between the engine and the motor. When this clutch is open there is no mechanical linkage between the engine and the e-motor, which enables it to propel the vehicle in electric-only mode.

2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Chassis. (Jeep).

When the binary clutch is closed, torque from the ICE engine and the e-motor flow combine through the automatic transmission. A variable clutch mounted behind the e-motor manages engagement with the transmission to improve drivability and efficiency.

We are told that both the next-gen Dodge Charger and Challenger will be offered with the GME-T6 in both rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) configurations. We should see the GME-T6 makes it official debut before the mid-2022 mark, under the hood of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.

HEMI Engines – 

5.7-liter HEMI HEMI® V8 engine. (Dodge).

While some publications are stating that the HEMI will be gone after 2023, our sources indicate that a HEMI engine will be available on the next-generation Challenger and Charger. It is doubtful that we would see the supercharged HEMI HELLCAT V8 return in the next-generation muscle cars, as Kuniskis has made it clear that the brand is celebrating the HELLCAT with a wide array of specialty options like the recent Charger and Challenger SRT Jailbreak models before it is discontinued in the car lineup after 2023.

Now while the GME-T6 will play an important role for the Challenger and Charger with its three different variants, the new turbocharged inline-six will ultimately replace the tired and true 5.7-liter HEMI V8 from the car’s lineup. This means that the popular 6.4-liter (392 cubic-inch) SRT HEMI V8 will be the key HEMI to return. There were rumors circulating that an updated version of the 6.4-liter SRT HEMI V8, with 7.0-liter (426 cubic inches) of displacement was in the works, however, sources have indicated that the program was canceled.

6.4-liter (392 cubic-inch) HEMI® V8 engine. (Dodge).

Instead, we may see the 6.4-liter SRT HEMI V8 get some updated technology thanks to a second-generation eTorque mild-hybrid (mHEV) system that debuted on the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer’s 5.7-liter HEMI V8.

The eTorque hybrid system replaces the traditional engine-mounted alternator with a belt-driven motor generator unit. The motor-generator unit works with a 48-volt battery pack to provide quick and seamless engine start/stop, torque addition to the engine crankshaft in certain driving situations, and brake energy regeneration, which improves responsiveness and efficiency. The system enables up to 130 lb.-ft. of torque on the current 5.7-liter to be available on initial throttle tip-in.

Ram 1500 with 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with eTorque system. (MoparInsiders).

The eTorque motor generator feeds energy to a 390 watt-hour lithium-ion 12-cell Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC)-Graphite battery. The small suitcase-size, air-cooled battery pack mounts to the floor inside the vehicle’s cabin.

The second-generation eTorque system is improved thanks to…

  • E-motor Assist: The eTorque motor provides electric assist to the engine from launch until the battery pack reaches a minimal state of charge, with the duration determined by throttle input from the driver.
  • Deceleration fuel shutoff: The system completely shuts off fuel delivery to the engine while the vehicle coasts down from highway speeds and under braking, enhancing the economy.
  • No-delay start/stop: The vehicle anticipates rolling stops, shutting down the engine as soon as vehicle speed reaches 0 mph, enhancing fuel savings. Engine restart with the eTorque motor is seamless and instant, even in aggressive driving conditions. Vehicle accessories are powered by the battery pack while the engine is stopped.  
Ram 1500 with 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with eTorque system. (MoparInsiders).

The Chrysler Group has shown its intentions of offering the 6.4-liter SRT HEMI V8 outside of its performance capabilities. The engine was recently installed under the hood of the all-new Grand Wagoneer and recalibrated to be more refined, than a powerhouse engine. The addition of the eTorque mild-hybrid system could improve fuel economy while offering additional torque instantly off the line.

Transmissions – 

Recently, Stellantis announced that it would invest a total of $229 million in three of its Kokomo, Indiana, plants to help the company reach its goal of achieving 40% low-emission vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030. The investment will support the retooling of the Kokomo Transmission (KTP), Kokomo Casting, and Indiana Transmission plants to produce the fourth-generation ZF-based 8HP 8-speed transmission.

Fourth-Generation of ZF 8HP 8-Speed Automatic Transmissions. (ZF).

This new transmission will have the flexibility to be paired with internal combustion engines (ICE), as well as mHEV, and PHEV propulsion systems, for vehicles across the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram, brands. It will deliver improved fuel economy, provide pure-electric range and help vehicles meet future emission regulations.

That transmission dubbed “880RE” will capitalize on a number of common parts within the different versions – transmission gear train/clutch, mechatronics, mechanical pump, and E-pump motor. It also will have the flexibility for unique parts to adapt to the various electrification options. These parts include the eMotor, torque converter, and power electronics. 

2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 4xe Chassis. (Jeep).

We discussed the new fourth-generation ZF 8HP in-depth in an earlier article back in 2020.

With the supercharged HEMI HELLCAT V8 absent from the lineup, the Dodge next-generation muscle cars won’t rely strictly upon an all-electric version to sustain their performance capabilities. Electrification will more than likely assist the future powertrains (including the HEMI V8) to be able to meet those strict emissions requirements and provide equal or greater power than some of the current options with better fuel economy.


Mike Volkmann

Michael Volkmann, a mechanical engineer in the steel industry, autocrossed and road-raced Neons. Michael has drag raced his 1971 Duster 340, 2015 Dodge Charger SRT392, 2009 Challenger R/T, and Neons, of which he’s owned seven — one SRT4, three ACRs, and three Sport Coupes.

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