The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye, capable of spitting out 808 horsepower in Super Stock form, was undoubtedly one of the most badass American machines to come out in 2020. And it just leaves me wondering what SRT will come out with next! Wait, what was that? SRT is dead? Hold on, hold on, becuase that’s not exactly true.
If you’ve been following headlines in the automotive industry recently, you may have heard that SRT has been disbanded by the newly formed Stellantis Group, but I’m here to clear the air on just what exactly that means. And let me just say that, no, this does not mean the death of Dodge’s mind-blowing track-minded offerings, but it might signal just where all that power is going to come from in the future.
Is the Dodge SRT Hellcat dead? Will there be more SRT-branded vehicles in the future?
The History of SRT
If you’re already an SRT fanatic, you’re probably way ahead of me on this, but let’s quickly take a blast into SRT’s past before we look at what’s going to happen to them in the future. First and foremost, SRT stands for Street and Racing Technology, but they didn’t always go by that name.
The group first joined forces in 1989 as Team Viper, when they were tasked with creating one of the most iconic American sports cars of all time, the Dodge Viper. Eventually, Team Viper linked up with the creators of another iconic car, Team Prowler, the mad scientists behind the super weird Plymouth Prowler. I guess there was something about the Prowler’s strange body shape and unimpressive performance that the Viper Squad found enticing. I don’t know.
Anyway, after these two groups joined up, they started going by Specialty Vehicle Engineering, or SVE, which was sort of like the Wu Tang Clan of badass automotives. During the DaimlerChrysler era, SVE was again rebranded to Performance Vehicle Operations, or PVO. If this is all getting confusing, don’t worry. In 2004, they took on the name SRT and have stuck with it since.
Then, in 2012, Chrysler Group finally gave SRT the recognition they deserved by splitting the division off into its own brand. They clearly didn’t take the opportunity lightly, since their first offering under the badge was the extremely lethal 2013 SRT Viper, a venom-spitting 640-horsepower V10 beast.
And since then, SRT hasn’t slowed down a bit, rolling out ridiculous rides like the hellish Challenger SRT Demon, the absolutely terrifying Durango SRT Hellcat, the off-roader-turned-racecar Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, and plenty of other unbelievable performance vehicles.
So, here we are in 2021, and after looking at all these insane rides that SRT has produced over the years, it begs the question: what exactly the hell is going on? Why on Earth would Stellantis ever want to do away with all the badassery that is SRT? Well, let’s get into it, and see whether or not there’s a future for our favorite performance marque.
What’s Going On?
First question: what is a Stellantis? It sounds like a medication for Crohn’s disease. No, wait, that’s Stelara. Or maybe it’s a space-themed video game. No, now I’m thinking of Stellaris. Stellantis, on the other hand, was formed when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles merged with PSA Groupe this past January. The new supergroup holds 14 different brands, including notable names like Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, Alfa, and many others.
So, what does this all mean for our beloved SRT? Well, it’s been hard to decipher exactly what’s going to happen to them, but we do know one thing, they are, in fact, being split up. Apparently, Stellantis wants to spread members of the SRT team across its 14 brands. So while no members of the team have been laid off, they will no longer be working as a tight-knit Navy Seal unit dedicated to building gas-guzzling performance monsters.
Apparently, SRT employees will be expected to contribute to developing performance technology across all 14 brands, with the hopes of improving performance across the board. And this could lead to great things! Maybe Fiat will eventually make a car worth driving! Maybe they’ll save the Maserati Ghibli from going down as the worst luxury car ever built! Who knows?
But, I must say, it’s pretty sad that these guys are being broken up after surviving so many other corporate takeovers.
Alright, let’s get down to what everyone wants to know. Will we see more Redeyes, Demons, and Hellcats? Will the Trackhawk spread its wings once more?
The Future of SRT
If any of you reading this have already started tearing the SRT Viper posters off your wall, I apologize for not telling you this earlier, but apparently Stellantis is not entirely evil, and will be continuing to roll out new generations of Dodge SRT-branded vehicles. And they’ve promised to give us at least one more generation of Trackhawk and another Ram 1500 TRX. What a relief.
However, it seems that the days of the gas-sipping Hellcat V8 may be just about over. Though SRT will continue to produce high-horsepower performance vehicles, it seems like a great deal of that power going forward will be coming out of electric motors, which is good for the environment, and really quick off the starting line, but I’m going to miss that Hellcat V8 exhaust note. Yeah, it’s disappointing, and it might just flair up some international tensions when I tell you why.
Apparently, within Stellantis, the Frenchies from PSA Groupe hold the majority of high-power positions, and these Frenchies love electric power almost as much as they love their baguettes. It seems as if the American and Italian representatives within Stellantis are being put in time-out by their French counterparts, and helplessly watching their diesel V8’s die out. A similar thing happened to Nissan when they fell into the Renault-Nissan Alliance, much to the dismay of the Japanese carmakers, as well as car guys worldwide.
Now, we don’t know for sure whether the Hellcat V8 or any other of the gas-guzzling Hemi engines are definitely on the chopping block, but it seems pretty likely that they’ll be phased out in the near future. Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis has been jabbering off about the electric future of muscle cars, so it’s pretty clear that we’ll either be looking at smaller gas engines assisted by electric motors, or entirely electric vehicles. And while they newer generations of SRT favorites may still bear the SRT badge, it seems like the second golden age of gas-powered muscle cars may be coming to an end. I’m going to try not to cry.
I guess it’s not all bad, though, we’ve seen some pretty badass vehicles that feature both gas and electric motors. I wouldn’t mind hopping behind the wheel of a 1,000-horsepower McLaren Speedtail and blasting off to the moon. The Lamborghini Sian is a hybrid too, and that sure doesn’t look too bad. My point is that with future SRT cars being augmented with electric motors, we’re probably going to see some absolutely bonkers performance numbers.
Will they be missing that raw and rambunctious feeling that comes with a big ass V8? Yeah, probably, but I think with the clear move toward electric vehicles market-wide, we all knew this day would come. That doesn’t mean we don’t get to be sad about it, though. Part of me wants to blame Elon Musk for this.