Dealers State Hellcat Challenger, Charger are Nearing Their End
In the past two weeks, I have been contacted by a handful of people from around the country who have been told by their local Dodge dealership that the lifespan of the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is quickly coming to an end. In some cases, they’re being told that this is the final model year and in other cases, they are being told that 2017 will be the final model year, but in every case, they are being encouraged to come in right away if they want to buy a Hellcat car.
While I understand the need for dealers to move units – especially high-priced models like the Hellcat Challenger and Charger, I don’t believe that this is any more than a rumor created to rush prospective buyers into pulling the trigger on a new Hellcat car sooner than later.
It should be noted that I have spoken to employees of several dealerships around the country, some of whom are great for sharing their dealership information, and none of them have heard anything about the end of the Hellcat Hemi. So, either some dealerships are making up information to bolster sales or Chrysler has selectively shared this information with a few dealerships around the country – excluding some of the huge dealerships which employ friends of mine.
In any case, here is a look at why I don’t expect the Hellcat Challenger or Charger to vanish from the dealership landscape anytime soon.
The Future of the Challenger and Charger
It is widely expected that the Dodge Challenger and the Dodge Charger will be completely refreshed for the 2018 or 2019 model year, with both cars transitioning from the current LX platform to a new platform shared with the Alfa Romeo Giulia. When that happens, we are likely to see a change in the engine lineup and, unfortunately, that new generation could exclude the Hellcat Hemi. Based on the popularity of the Hellcat packages – both in sales and in overall industry branding – I believe that Dodge will continue offering the 707hp supercharged Hemi as long as they possibly can, but there is that outside chance that they will head into the next generation without the Hellcat engine.
The next generation Charger and Challenger are expected to continue on as larger vehicles, but the move to the new Alfa-designed chassis platform should make them both a touch smaller and (hopefully) quite a bit lighter. Both cars will continue to be performance vehicles and with the Viper leaving the lineup, you would think that the company would want to use their most powerful engine of all time in their next generation muscle cars – but again, I suppose that there is some small chance that the Chrysler Group will lighten up the power output of the next gen Challenger and Charger.
That being said, the next generation Dodge Challenger and Charger are likely at least a year away, with the 2017 model year standing between the current and next gen models. If the new Challenger and Charger are set to arrive for the 2018 model year, they will likely hit dealerships in the summer or early fall of 2017 at the latest. Even if they arrive in the spring of 2017 as early 2018 model year vehicles, the 2017 models would still have almost a year of sales, so the Hellcat cars will almost certainly return for the 2017 model year.
Furthermore, if the next generation Challenger and Charger are set to arrive for the 2019 model year, I fully expect to see the Hellcat Hemi featured for the 2017 and 2018 models, but even if there is no Hellcat Hemi package for a 2018 next gen Dodge muscle car – you still have more than a year to peruse the new models at your local dealership.
Finally, the Dodge Viper is being killed off due to a variety of unofficial reasons, but in speaking about the end of the Viper, Chrysler Group folks are quick to point out that the Hellcat cars provide all of the branding of the Viper, while also posting far better sales and better performance numbers in some situations. Basically, Chrysler is killing off the Viper because they have two other amazing performance cars, and with Dodge being marketed as a full-on performance brand, is the company really going to kill off the three most powerful models?
I don’t think so, because it just doesn't make sense to build a brand's reputation for high performance only to kill off the best performing vehicles.