Fans have asked a multitude of questions in recent months about whether Dodge will make its long-awaited return to the Cup Series. NASCAR president Steven Phelps acknowledged that “things are progressing” while the manufacturer has revealed plans for some big changes that could lead to this return.
Dodge Brand CEO Tim Kuniskis spoke to Motor Trend and revealed that the company will make some major updates for 2024. Chief among them is the introduction of Dodge’s first pure electric muscle car, which will show up in concept form in early 2022. Additionally, the company will stop production on the Dodge Challenger coupe and the Dodge Charger sedan in two years and replace them with new cars on new platforms.
According to the interview, the moves are part of an initiative called “Never Lift.” This new business plan is a 24-month road map to the company’s performance future. Kuniskis explained to Motor Trend that this business plan has the goal of appealing to both sides of Dodge’s consumer base — those who support electric vehicles and those who strongly oppose them.
“I’m juggling knives because I’ve gotta keep two different huge factions happy because at some point those two factions will converge,” Kuniskis told Motor Trend. “The problem is no one knows when they will converge. My job is to provide confidence, over the next 24 months, that we’re gonna do this.”
2024 Coincides With an Expected Change in NASCAR
The reason that these big changes could lead to Dodge’s return is that 2024 coincides with an expected move by the sanctioning body. The 2024 season is the estimated time when a hybrid powertrain with some form of electrification could make its debut.
Dodge will have multiple vehicles in 2024 that could help NASCAR transition to a different era of the sport. The Challenger and Charger replacements will be the obvious choices considering the previous success in multiple series. However, two other vehicles could provide NASCAR and Dodge with some options.
The all-electric muscle car is another obvious choice. NASCAR has shied away from fully embracing electrification, but this new version of an American muscle car could headline a potential move to electric stock cars if the sanctioning body chose to do so.
Additionally, Dodge has announced a plug-in hybrid vehicle with the brand’s badge that will go into production by the end of 2022. There are very few details available about this plug-in hybrid, but Kuniskis told Motor Trend that it will be a new car.
The Cars Could Impress on the Track and Drive Sales in the Showroom
When Toyota, Chevrolet, and Ford unveiled their respective Next Gen stock cars, they all made a point to highlight the similarities between the vehicles on the track and those in showrooms across the country. This opened up potential opportunities for fans to see the cars competing on the track and decide to purchase one for themselves, albeit with far fewer decals.
This factor could be key for Dodge as it aims to embrace electrification while keeping the muscle car crowd as part of the consumer base. The company is now under the umbrella of Stellantis, which represents 14 automotive brands. According to Motor Trend, CEO Carlos Tavares told brands such as Dodge that they would have 10 years to execute their business and product plans.
The manufacturer has already achieved sales success with both the Challenger and Chargers, but a return to NASCAR could potentially drive even more sales in the future. One of the big teams could begin working with Dodge, win several races, and bring extra attention to a new model of vehicle.