Dodge, a viciously American muscle car company best known as the cars that get systematically destroyed during Fast and Furious film shoots and is actually owned by a multinational conglomerate headquartered in Amsterdam called Stellantis, wants you to know it's not going to make electric cars. But in a triumph of vapid American marketing, Dodge will make an "eMuscle" car, to be released in 2024.
At least, that is what Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis announced in one of the strangest, most toxic masculine marketing videos I have seen this side of a testosterone supplement infomercial. During the four-minute segment, Kuniskis likened the Dodge brand to hammerhead sharks, mocked the idea of making electric cars, said Dodge cars are "an experience, not a technology," and then concluded despite all that it will make an electric car but just make up its own word for them because of the technological advancements.
You can watch the video if you'd like. It is, if nothing else, an artifact of what some people think it will take to sell electric vehicles in the U.S. Or, perhaps more accurately, it is a caricature of what some people think it will take to sell electric vehicles in the U.S.
Dodge's current business model is selling about a hundred thousand big, thirsty, powerful gas muscle cars a year, which will soon become museum pieces. How do you sell an electric car to people who refuse to go electric because they like gas cars and, in addition, may have strange misgivings about electric cars due to associating them with a political ideology they don't like? By pretending it's not an electric car, as if that will fool them.
The fact is, despite Kuniskis's braggadocio about Dodge being the hammerhead sharks of the car world by evolving "intelligently to thrive," Dodge is more than a decade late in realizing people who do not care about the environment are more than happy to buy an electric car if it's cool and fast as hell. That is, in fact, Tesla's whole deal. For example, there is a whole YouTube channel devoted to hardened Australian coal miners wowing over Teslas not because they are environmentally friendly, but because they are fast and fun to drive.
Ironically, Dodge's desperate attempt to find some brand logic for pivoting to electric is a great sign for the exact type of environmentalist Dodge says it will never cater to. Not because I think Dodge will sell many "eMuscles" or even will exist within a decade—Stellantis has already hinted its days as a brand may be numbered, not surprisingly given Dodge sells fewer cars than Tesla these days—but because if even Dodge, the company least incentivized to go electric, is trying to find a reason to go electric, then the game truly is up. Electric cars are here, they are the future, and they will be here much longer than Dodge's Brand hierarchy of needs.