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Challenger Hellcat Orders: Manuals vs Automatics

by Patrick Rall on

Over the past few weeks, some have insisted that the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat will only be available with a manual transmission. When the company opened the Hellcat Challenger order banks for a single day a few weeks back, but only for manual transmission cars, that rumor grew. After that, we reached out to a few of our contacts at Chrysler to get the whole story.

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It turns out that Hellcat Challengers with the automatic transmission will continue to be built and delivered, but through the successful validation process, the company is getting more cars to real buyers every day – with those single-day-order-window manual transmission models proof that the process is speeding up deliveries and streamlining production.

An FCA spokesperson wrote, “We continue to build and deliver Hellcats per our build plan, both manual and automatic versions, through the remainder of 2015 model year.  Through the process of validating our production scheduling, we recognized an opportunity to build a number of additional 2015 MY Challenger Hellcats.  All of these are incremental to our original plan and all of them are manual transmission units.”

This might not clear things up for some readers, so here is a quick breakdown of what we think that this means.

Since the company closed the order banks for the Hellcat Challenger and Hellcat Charger, they have been going through a validation process to ensure that dealers are not buying cars for inventory. An insider who asked to remain anonymous explained that the company is going through the long list of preorders to figure out which are real orders from customers with cash in hand and which are dealership orders for cars that will sit around. The company wants to get cars to those dealerships which have a buyer waiting rather than delivering cars for showroom eye candy.

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In weeding out the inventory orders, they recently opened the order bank for a single day, but only for Hellcat Challengers with the manual transmission. It is likely that they found enough manual transmission models with no buyer waiting, so they took orders from dealerships with buyers waiting in order to get those cars built.

Some of you might be asking how, with so many preorders, the company was able to “free up” some extra production units of the Challenger Hellcat, but only with manual transmissions. So far, almost every Hellcat Challenger I have seen in person has the 8-speed automatic; that self-shifting transmission is the only one offered in the Hellcat Charger.

Because of the high demand for the 8-speed transmission in both Hellcat cars, these transmissions (purchased from ZF) are likely in short supply. However, with the manual transmission from the Viper being far less popular, the company has plenty of the 6-speed gearboxes to go around.

By opening the order bank for one day, the company sold some previous unsold units while continuing to produce the thousands of preordered Hellcat cars with the automatic transmission.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.


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