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FauxPar #6: The end of the Hemi

by Patrick Rall (November 2015 - Updated June 2016)

A few months back, there was a report posted on a small enthusiast forum claiming that the current lineup of Hemi engines will be discontinued in or around 2019. The forum member who posted it cited an insider, and there was no other information.

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Two Allpar sources have also said that the current Hemi will end in 2019. They did not generalize to all V8s.

Even though the news was about as unofficial as it gets, the automotive media jumped on the topic and it took off like wildfire. From there, the word traveled across other forums and the various social networks that after 2019, there would be no more Hemi engines.

The looming increases in EPA fuel economy requirements has led many people to believe that the future of the American V8 was in question. When the report of the current Hemi engines being killed off, it fed the concerns of the V8 future, but regardless of that forum post - I don't foresee the complete removal of the Hemi V8.

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The 5.7L Hemi V8 sold in the Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Durango, Chrysler 300, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram trucks was first introduced in the 2003 model year. That engine is entering its 14th model year. There have been some slight revisions over the years, but for the most part, every 5.7L Hemi is built around the same architecture as that first engine. 14 model years is a long time for an engine to be offered; and if this engine is slated to be built through 2019, it will be in its 17th model year.

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The same basic engine was the basis for the 6.1 Hemi, the 6.4 Hemi, and the new 6.2L supercharged Hellcat Hemi. The 6.1 engine was only sold in SRT vehicles for six model years before being replaced by the 6.4, 392 cubic inch Hemi, which is now selling as both a performance engine and as a heavy duty truck engine. Should that engine continue through to 2019, it will have been in use for nine model years and come 2019, the Hellcat Hemi will be five years old.

Even if we hadn't gotten this forum report about the Hemi coming to an end in 2019, it would make sense that by 2019, the current Hemi engines would be due to be severely upgraded or replaced. I believe that the report of the current Hemi engines being discontinued after 2019 could very well be true - but that won't spell the end of the Mopar V8.

Instead, I expect to see a new generation of the Hemi using improved engine technologies borrowed from Ferrari and developed in-house, such as direct injection and possibly forced induction (in addition to the next-generation Hellcat Hemi).

We have seen a variety of automakers offering big power with small engines through the use of turbocharging and supercharging, and it happens that Ferrari has made good use of a small displacement, turbocharged V8. I am not saying that the 2020 Ram 1500 will have a Ferrari V8, but rather, the 2020 Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Ram vehicles could sport a new, smaller displacement Hemi family that relies heavily on turbocharging. This factory turbo Hemi could incorporate technology from the current models such as MDS and variable cam phasing, combined with direction injection and other technologies to increase power and economy.

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Should Chrysler take this approach and introduce a new family of Hemi V8 engines, the company would be able to satisfy the American performance crowd that demands a V8 while still having the fuel economy levels needed to improve the overall fleet fuel average for the EPA requirements. Every vehicle sold doesn't need to meet the CAFE law minimum figure, but the average across the entire fleet of vehicles sold is calculated and the vehicles which sell in the greatest volume have the biggest influence on the company average fuel economy figure.

Because of that, the next generation Hemi doesn't need to get 54mpg, but if the company can use a smaller Hemi with forced induction to make slightly more power than the current 5.7L mill, the Hemi engines would have less negative impact on the overall average of the Chrysler Group.

The Hemi engine is already one of the most fuel friendly V8s sold in the US, so adding new fuel-saving technology to a smaller displacement engine could be the answer to prolonging the life of the Mopar V8 well beyond 2019.

Update. The 5.7 liter Hemi is now reputed to continue to 2019-2020, and then be dropped (possibly only from cars). The 6.4 and 6.2 may or may not continue past that time but would likely be restricted to Jeeps and/or Rams.

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