Dodge Speed Week Has Reached Its Best Edition Ever

Dodge Speed Week Has Reached Its Best Edition Ever

Challenger, Charger, and Durango received several exciting upgrades to mark Dodge’s upcoming transition to the electric era

Dodge Speed Week Has Reached Its Best Edition Ever

Spotlights are all over Dodge these days. The North-American brand is currently hosting the Speed Week, a series of events that pretty much celebrate itself. Just like Jeep at the Moab Easter Safari, Dodge shows several concept cars, makes some actual releases, and discloses some of its intentions for the next years. While that happens year after year, the 2022 edition comes with some historically important news.

We all know that automakers are embracing electrification these days. All the big ones have set specific dates from which they will only sell electric cars. We could think that Dodge would be at danger for that, since it largely relies on V8 engines and a retro image. The truth, however, is that it decided to turn the tables and execute a big reinvention plan whose first practical results we are starting to see right now.

The company chose the M1 Concourse venue to host its Speed Week (source: Stellantis)

Big event at the M1 Concourse

If you are an older car enthusiast, you will certainly remember auto shows. Those events happened once a year or every two years in major cities like Frankfurt, Geneva, New York, Paris, and São Paulo. There was a huge fanfare around them because companies would reserve their most significant releases to show there with big ceremonies. Media outlets would become crazy with so many articles to write at the same time.

CEO Tim Kuniskis at the Dodge Speed Week (source: Stellantis)
CEO Tim Kuniskis at the Dodge Speed Week (source: Stellantis)

The thing is, after being the reference in the car world, they have been declining recently. Building a stand became too expensive, people’s interest was not translating into sales, and the press could not dedicate much attention to each car. In 2020, the health crisis came to add the final straw. There are still many auto shows around the world, but they never became as popular as they were up to the early 2010s.

Nowadays, many companies are hosting individual events, whether online or in-person. As these pictures show, Speed Week centers the attention on Dodge and focuses on people who truly like the brand and its cars. In this case, the company has been making a different important announcement every day. Some of them regard its current model lineup and others give hints about what it plans to do in the near future.

First day of Dodge’s Speed Week events (source: Stellantis)

Why is Dodge Speed Week important?

The brand has gone through many ups and downs recently. The end of the partnership with Daimler left it in a limbo of forgettable cars and weak image. Then, the 2008 crisis took it to the verge of bankruptcy. Fiat’s takeover went through an uncertain period at first, with the Dart’s failure, but gained momentum up to the Stellantis era. However, the company’s restructuring plan had to focus on some brands at a time.

CEO Tim Kuniskis at the Dodge Speed Week (source: Stellantis)
CEO Tim Kuniskis at the Dodge Speed Week (source: Stellantis)

While Jeep reached a global projection and RAM built its image, Dodge had to make do with its existing resources. The division focused on its three strongest cars and made them even more profitable with a heavy investment in their image. Fortunately, it paid off: they achieved consistent sales in their upscale versions, with V8 engines and many additional items. However, that success could not be permanent.

As mentioned above, the whole brand built an image that is about to become obsolete. The only way to stay relevant in the market would be to embrace electrification. This year’s Speed Week is so important because it shows that Dodge accepted the challenge. It has created a complex plan to honor its tradition and reinterpret it in the upcoming times, rather than simply breaking it. Let us give a closer look.

Dodge Hornet and Durango Hellcat

The all-new Hornet manages to solve two problems at the same time. First, it takes Dodge to the compact segment once again. The Dart never sold well because it arrived at a time when SUVs were already on the rise. And while the Journey was an SUV, it was older and had no emotional appeal. This time, the division borrowed Alfa Romeo’s Tonale to create an entry-level SUV with modern technology and flashy design.

2023 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat (source: Stellantis)
2023 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat (source: Stellantis)

The other issue was more subtle. By offering a hybrid version, the Hornet makes a transition between the current models, which feature no electrification whatsoever, and the future fully electric ones. You might also like to know that it comes with leading technical specifications for the segment since the base trim. The hybrid powertrain comes in the R/T, which also brings sportier design and more standard items.

If you are not prepared to face the future yet, Dodge still has something for you. The Durango is offering the SRT Hellcat version again, since it had such a strong demand last year. Once again, the midsize SUV is using the supercharged 6.2L V8 Hemi engine capable of 710 hp of power and 645 lb-ft of torque. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and reaches the quarter mile in 11.5 seconds. Top speed is 180 mph.

2022 Dodge Challenger with Direct Connection tuning parts (source: Stellantis)
2022 Dodge Challenger with Direct Connection tuning parts (source: Stellantis)

Direct Performance partnerships

Earlier this year, Dodge recreated its portfolio of performance cars. Direct Connection first operated in the 1960s and 1970s. It offers tuning parts both from the manufacturer itself and from partner companies. The goal is to provide further assistance to performance drivers, such as race competitors. The additional benefit is that everything is supported by Dodge, which even means preserving the car’s warranty.

2023 Dodge Challenger Convertible by Drop Top Customs (source: Stellantis)
2023 Dodge Challenger Convertible by Drop Top Customs (source: Stellantis)

At Speed Week, the division announced several new items. Drag Pak now offers a rolling chassis for drag racers to customize with specific bodies, and a Challenger body-in-white kit. SpeedKore now sells carbon-fiber parts for the same car. And Finale Speed offers licensed bodies of pre-1979 cars, including the 1970 Charger made in carbon fiber. You can get individual parts or arrange to buy a finished car from them.

Even more impressive, however, is what Drop Top Customs now offers. While Dodge itself has never made a convertible Challenger, now you can get it through a third-party modification. As you can see, the new parts perfectly integrate with the original design. Besides, you can order the modified car from the dealer. The base car goes from the factory to the tuner and arrives completely finished at the dealer for you.

2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat with Jailbreak (source: Stellantis)
2023 Dodge Charger Jailbreak, now in SRT Hellcat (source: Stellantis)

Dodge Challenger, Charger Last Call

Coupé and sedan will get a proper sendoff. Named Last Call, the 2023 model year brings commemorative plaques honoring the cars’ design and assembly locations, and the 345 V8 engine used on R/T variations. The color palette welcomes B5 Blue, Plum Crazy, and Sublime Green once again (they were famous in the past) and the modern Destroyer Gray. And all units will be allocated to dealerships from the beginning.

2023 Dodge Challenger in Destroyer Gray. It also has retro colors (source: Stellantis)
2023 Dodge Challenger in Destroyer Gray (source: Stellantis)

After releasing so many special editions, such as Demon, Hellcat, Scat Pack and Redeye, Dodge is paying attention to Jailbreak now. This one consists in eliminating restrictions of color combinations and content to create unique cars. Now, this customization function is available to the Hellcat versions of Charger and Challenger. That means you can browse through countless combinations to build your dream car.

Last, but not least, the Charger and the Challenger will receive a total of seven special editions which pay tribute to their history. Dodge teased the public by showing them in full covers with a visual hint on their graphics, and their release dates. In its own words, “each model will share a connection to an iconic Dodge model from the past, reaching back to the dawn of the muscle-car era in the 1960s and 1970s.”

The future of eMuscle

We know that the goal of this Speed Week was to make Dodge’s transition to electric cars. After saying goodbye to the old times, now we can talk about the new ones. The brand previewed its plan by showing the Charger Daytona SRT concept. The best way to define such a car is saying that it “drives like a Dodge, looks like a Dodge and feels like Dodge – and just happens to be a battery-electric vehicle (BEV).”

The first Dodge electric muscle car
Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept (source: Stellantis)

The concept backs those words by drawing visual inspiration from the 1968 Charger coupé and using a heavily modified powertrain. It creates artificial sound that resembles V8 engines and uses an electro-mechanical transmission. The list of modern items includes ambient lighting, panoramic sunroof, infotainment system and the selection of driving modes. Basically, the cabin is comparable to that of a contemporary car.

While Speed Week will end soon, it is only marking the beginning of a new era for Dodge. Not only about electric vehicles, but also about its future in Stellantis and in the car market. By working hard in preserving its image, the division expects to stay strong. That will be essential to keep its customers while attracting new ones. Do you think Dodge is going in the right way? What else would you do to make it prosper?