At Detroit Auto Show Dodge Declares the Challenger's Run Soon Over
Dodge has plans in place to end the Challenger's production run in 2014 and replace their pony car with a smaller, more CAFE friendly Barracuda.
If Dodge has one thing at their disposal it's a cadre of legendary Chrysler nameplates at their disposal, and the name Baracuda is just another one of them. The Dodge Challenger, while beautiful and impressive (and very able to hold its own, performance-wise, especially in SRT8 form) is heavy. Very heavy, in fact, and that weight has hurt the Challenger's sales as well as its market image.
This weight issue has made the current Challenger an uncommon sight at track days around the nation where its closest competitors--the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro--can be found in droves, and it's this weight issue that will ultimately lead to the Challenger's demise.
CAFE restrictions have become rough, and Dodge as a brand is having trouble keeping its numbers where they need to be in relation to CAFE averages and standards. The weighty Challenger, and its weighty brother the Charger, don't help with this either. For this reason, the move to a lighter--and, as result, more fuel friendly--alternative seemed like a given.
Thus enters the Dodge Barracuda. Thus far, little is known about the Barracuda. What Dodge has said is that the vehicle will not be built on the Challenger's LY Platform, and, according to rumors will be constructed on the same rear-wheel drive platform as the Hyundai Genesis coupe. This platform, whether it or another one is used, will guaranteed be shorter, thinner, and much lighter than the Challenger LY one.
These moves should ultimately take the Challenger, through means of downsizing, from a Grand-Touring Coupe as it is currently built to a more legitimate, light-weight and high-performing sports car--the likes of which, outside of the Viper, Dodge hasn't produced in decades. Also, this move makes sense in conjunction with the Alfa Romeo co-ownership of Dodge now, as either purchasing the rights to the Genesis platform or producing an entirely new one would provide Alfa Romeo with an affordable, lightweight, RWD platform that could be utilized for a more entry-level sports vehicle in their very successful European market--maybe something to battle with the BMW 1M and other vehicles of that nature?
Ultimately, Dodge has this new Barracuda slated for release in the 2014 model year--which means that we should begin seeing concept versions of it in the upcoming months. This 2014 date would mean that the entire life-span of the Challenger, launched in this iteration in 2008, would be just over five years. The 2014 date also puts the Barracuda in line to compete with the revamped 50th Anniversary Edition Ford Mustang set for release that same year, and the next generation Chevrolet Camaro that's scheduled for release in the 2015 model year.