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Why the Charger isn’t getting more high performance love

by Patrick Rall on

Over the past two years, Dodge has rolled out an array of new high performance packages for the Challenger, including the Demon, the Hellcat widebody, the Hellcat Redeye, the Scat Pack Widebody and most recently, the Scat Pack 1320. All of these new packages have pleased the Mopar world as a whole, but the modern Dodge drivers who prefer the roominess of the Charger are feeling left out. They have watched as the Challenger community has received one performance package after another, including more horsepower in the standard Hellcat models, but the sedan hasn’t benefited from any of the new performance options from the Challenger.

 

Fear not, Charger fans, as I believe that Dodge will eventually begin rolling out some new, spicier versions of the world’s best-performing sedan and right now, the brand is focusing on the coupe before turning their attention to the sedan.

Many of you have asked me why Dodge doesn’t just roll everything out in the same year, like they did with the Hellcat cars, but I believe that it comes down to clever marketing and a safer production plan.

Marketing Mastery

Automakers tend to introduce new vehicles one at a time so that they can continuously keep people talking about the brand. For example, say that Dodge introduced all of their 2019 Challenger and Charger information back on June 1st – the Redeye, the 1320,, the 717-horsepower Hellcat revision and anything that they have planned for the Charger all on one day. On one hand, that would draw a ton of attention to the brand and had FCA done that, Dodge would have most certainly been the talk of the town for a week or so.

 

The problem with this approach is that once the frenzy over that information has died down and some other company has rolled out a hot, new product, the public interest and media attention would fade. Since Dodge had already shown everything that it had for the coming model year, they wouldn’t be able to make an announcement to get that attention back on their brand. On the other hand, when Dodge makes an announcement about a new package every couple of months, it keeps interest high from the public and the media. More importantly, the fact that Dodge is trickling out exciting, new models keeps Mopar fans on their edges of their seats as we all wonder what will be next.

Scat Pack 1320 Burnout Rear

Right now, Dodge is seeing a ton of interest in the Challenger, so they are rolling out new trim levels and packages, satisfying the demands of as many prospective buyers as possible. While this is off-putting to Charger fans, it is also building anticipation. However, Dodge is eventually going to run out of slightly-new configurations of the Challenger and when that happens, the interest from the public and the media will begin to fade.

I expect that is the point at which Dodge will begin to show some go-fast love for the Charger and at this point, it seems like the brand should be running low on ways to tweak the coupe – so the sedan’s day in the sun could be near. If I am correct, Dodge will soon taper down their onslaught of high performance Challengers and they will move onto the Charger. After a model year – maybe two – of the Charger being the key focus, it will be time for the next-generation Challenger and Charger to arrive. This would allow Dodge to hold the attention of the public and the media in 2018 and 2019 with the Challenger, 2020 and 2021 with the Charger and after that, they will capture loads of attention with the arrival of the next generation cars.

Safer Production Plans

When Dodge announced the Hellcat cars back in 2014, they introduced the Challenger in April at the New York Auto Show and they introduced the Charger four months later, during the days leading up to Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise. Spreading out the introduction of the two cars allowed Dodge to demand a whole lot of attention throughout 2014, making Hellcat one of the most-searched words online and dominating the world of high performance automotive news.

However, the production plans didn’t go as smoothly as the marketing rollout. The Challenger went on sale in the fall of 2014 and the Charger went on sale a few months later. In theory, this staggered sales launch would allow Dodge to continue spreading out the discussions about their vehicles, but they ran into a problem.

The Hellcat Challenger sold far better than the company expected or projected. Dodge execs had hoped to sell 5,000 Hellcats a year between the sedan and coupe, but thousands of orders poured in for the 2015 Challenger Hellcat. This not only exceeded the number of units that the company planned to sell, but it also caused an issue with availability of the IHI-sourced supercharger.

 

Basically, the Hellcat Challenger sold so well that when the Charger went on sale and entered the production phase, the company was running out of key components like the supercharger assembly. The automaker scrambled to order more superchargers from IHI, but the small company had a hard time meeting the demand for the Hellcat blowers and as a result, a production bottleneck caused slowed delivery of the Hellcat Charger that actually led to some 2015 orders being cancelled and converted to 2016 orders.

The popularity of the Hellcat Challenger alone would have caused a production constraint, but the strong early sales of the 707-horsepower coupe effectively hurt Hellcat Charger sales by using up many of the most important components. Over time, IHI got caught up with the supercharger orders and Dodge got caught up on the orders of all Hellcat cars, but there is no question that the production bottleneck led to some angry customers and a negative impact on sales.

By introducing the Demon, the Widebody packages, the Redeye and the 1320 for the Challenger within an 18-month period allows the company to better plan out their production process – working to ensure that there is no bottleneck this time around. In speaking with dealers and buyers, it looks like the new Challenger Redeye is selling very well right now, making use of parts that were initially designed for the Demon. I fully expect that we will see some of those parts make it into the Charger – including that big, beautiful supercharger – but Dodge is making sure that they can satisfy the demand for one 797-horsepower car before introducing another one.

 

The bottom line here is that I believe very confidently that there are more high performance Dodge Charger packages on the way, but the brand doesn’t want their two beasts competing for parts or attention – so they are focusing on the coupe now and they will next turn their attention to the sedan before moving into the next generation of both vehicles.

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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