Dodge Flips a Flaccid Middle Finger to “the System” With Electric Muscle Car

To promote the Charger Daytona EV, they decided to...make fun of kale?

The new 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona Scat Pack, the American brand's new electric muscle car
Do you despise KALE? Do you hate PC culture? Then this is the EV for you! (Don't worry, it's not GREEN!)

On Tuesday, a video was published on social media that rails against the “politically correct,” shrugs off the idea of saving the planet, and makes fun of “the rulemakers, the suits and the lawyers” who drink “kale smoothies.” In all likelihood, there were probably many videos like it published, since it’s a hackneyed script that’s normally the purview of peddlers in grievance politics, anti-woke crusaders and wannabe alpha bros who pay for blue checks on X. But the particular video I’m talking about was actually created by Dodge to promote their new electric muscle car.

The 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona, which will begin production in mid-2024, is the first electric muscle car from the company. The American brand, which is owned by Netherlands-based Stellantis, has taken the categorization one step further, calling it “the first and only electric muscle car.” Being the first out of the gate with this type of EV was a promise Dodge made back in 2021. In the years since, we’ve been privy to the car’s developments here and there (like the “Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust,” an absurd fake exhaust adding V8 sound effects to an otherwise relatively quiet EV), but now the design has been finalized and Dodge is ready to let the car itself do the talking. Or so I thought.

Instead of focusing on how the Charger Daytona is better than other EVs on the market today, or how they’ve specifically translated the muscle car formula for the electrified age, Dodge created a bizarre 10-minute video called “The Next-Gen Charger,” which finds the company’s CEO Tim Kuniskis traveling in the vehicle back in time to 1910 to meet up with Horace and John Dodge, the original founders, who then hop in the electrified muscle car and travel forward to 2024. To be fair, during this goofily animated fever dream, which makes me pine for the artistry of 2004’s The Polar Express, Kuniskis does indeed talk about the technical and performance aspects of the car (or cars, as multiple variants are being rolled out), but the bulk of the message is something else entirely: a halfhearted middle finger to electric cars, anyone who sees them as a part of the solution to the climate crisis, and… “the system”?

“Most people think electric cars are supposed to save the planet,” Kuniskis says in a voice-over while pretending to drive around a racetrack. “Electric cars are supposed to be green and politically correct. [Ed. note: What?] So this thing must be super efficient and environmentally friendly, right? Maybe, but that was never the point.” 

“The point was that they told us we couldn’t sell Hemis [Ed. note: No one said that, there are just more stringent fuel economy rules now.], but they never told us that we had to be boring and slow. So we took the rules, found the grey areas and used them — used them against them to build a muscle car, to build a Dodge muscle car, and slide it under the wire that the regulators threw down in front of us like spike strips on the highway.”

Wait a second, you slid it under the wire? But the wire is spike strips that sit on the ground? So you slid underneath…but also went over?

If this sounds like Dodge took angry comments about them discontinuing the Hemi V8 engine, Facebook rants about EVs and lazy standup from a decade ago and fed all of that into an off-brand AI chatbot, it gets worse. 

“This is an electric muscle car that will make the rulemakers, the suits and the lawyers wish they hadn’t had a kale smoothie for lunch when they launch this thing,” Kuniskis says. “What’s a kale smoothie?” the animated ghost of John Dodge asks. “I don’t really know,” the CEO of a 123-year-old company really responds, “but you don’t want one.” 

Can an Electric Vehicle Ever Be a Real Muscle Car?
Dodge said it will build the “world’s first.” We asked automotive experts if it’s even possible.

This isn’t an ad for a car, not really. This is a misguided, desperate plea to Dodge’s dedicated audience to not abandon them just because they’re building EVs now. But in playing the victim card — at one point, Kuniskis says to the cartoonish Dodge brothers, “We’re under attack. Your legacy is under attack. We need your help…to fight the system.” — the company makes itself look old and out of date, and not in the grand historical framing it’s trying to adopt. Instead, this gimmicky spot feels like it aired on Spike TV in 2005.

There is some legitimately impressive engineering happening in the new Charger models, including the gas-powered ones. Yes, besides the electrified Charger Daytona variants, Dodge will be adding two Charger Sixpack models powered by their twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six engine called the Hurricane, which has been seen previously in Wagoneer models, and, as Kuniskis notes in a press release, “produces better horsepower and torque numbers than the outgoing 5.7- and 6.4-liter HEMI engines.”

Instead of meeting the moment, forging a new path and showing Dodge fans what they can look forward to in the future, the company instead decided to fire the first shot of what they hoped would be their own skirmish in the culture wars. Oh, my apologies, that wasn’t a gunshot, that was just the blown-out speaker pumping fake exhaust sounds.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!