Michigan Automakers Hope Electric Muscle Cars Will Retain Enthusiasts

Even though automakers have pledged to invest billions of dollars over the next decade to develop new lines of electric cars, not every driver is willing to go electric due to a couple of factors. Price and range anxiety are currently the chief barriers to electric vehicle adoption in the country. Furthermore, electric vehicle companies will have a hard time breaking into the select group of drivers who prize muscle cars for their performance.

Electric cars may have significantly greater torque and starting speeds, but conventional muscle cars still outshine them in numerous other regards. In Detroit, Michigan, automakers are looking to gain a foothold in this market as they transition from the famed muscle cars to zero-emission electric cars. With conventional performance car sales shrinking amid a growing shift to electric vehicles, attracting muscle-car enthusiasts could be the key to remaining competitive in the evolving automotive industry.

Dodge recently revealed a concept for its first electrified muscle car with interesting features. It had multispeed transmission and an exhaust system, features that aren’t typically required in an EV but are meant to win over hard-core performance vehicle enthusiasts. Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis says that sound is an especially critical component for this segment. Shifting is also important, he said, and although it doesn’t increase vehicle speed, it makes driving a lot more fun and engaging.

Legacy automakers in Detroit are hoping that retaining such features as they transition to electric vehicles will allow them to retain their muscle car customers. They are also looking to attract long-time car fans by giving them the classic performance experience by incorporating loud V8 engines and shifting gears.

Even though the days of surging muscle-car sales are long gone, these performance vehicles have always been seen as cultural touchstones that create a ton of brand awareness and allow customers to remain loyal brand ambassadors. They could play the same role in the nascent electric vehicle market. Dodge will begin production of the Charger Daytona SRT concept in 2024, including aspects that have a negative impact but will give the EV a muscle car feel.

Kuniskis told CNBC that the automaker doesn’t care about the reduction in range caused by including a multispeed transmission and exhaust system as long as they make the EV feel and drive like a conventional performance car. This will be crucial if Dodge hopes to attract and retain muscle car enthusiasts such as Josh and Darla Welton, who own several muscle cars and love the interactive experience of driving a muscle car.

As the Michigan-based legacy automakers jostle for market share in the electrified muscle car segment, other startups such as Kandi Technologies Group Inc. (NASDAQ: KNDI) are focusing on making compact vehicles suited to the needs of ordinary motorists.

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