Against All Common Sense, Dodge Brings The Durango SRT Hellcat Back From The Dead To Kick Some Super SUV Ass

Morning Dump Durango Hellcat

Dodge revives the Durango Hellcat, Mahindra taps VW for an EV platform, automotive suppliers seek renegotiation. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

The Durango Hellcat Is Back

Durango Hellcat
Photo credit: Dodge

With the Hellcat era’s sunset rising over the horizon, Dodge is taking its fire-breathing V8 for a bit of a victory lap. Among other announcements, Dodge is bringing back the Durango SRT Hellcat SUV for 2023. Performance SUVs always seem to be oxymorons, but the Durango Hellcat is the closest a performance SUV can get to making sense. It still has an excellent 8,700 pound towing capacity and three rows of seating, plus a manufacturer-quoted zero to 60 mph time of 3.5 seconds means it’s properly quick. After all the hype the 2020 Durango SRT Hellcat generated, I’m glad Dodge brought the model back for one last hurrah.

In case the 2021 model year Durango SRT Hellcat flew under your radar the first time around, here’s what’s going on with Dodge’s ballistic family hauler. The Hellcat engine has been tuned to 710 horsepower, making it a little more powerful than early Challenger Hellcats, while an eight-speed automatic gearbox and beefy transfer case send all that power to all four wheels. In addition to the aforementioned 3.5-second zero to 60 mph time, Dodge claims an NHRA-certified quarter-mile time of 11.5 seconds and a top speed of 180 mph. There isn’t anything hugely new for the 2023 edition, but I don’t think there needs to be. Why have new when you can have awesome? Dodge says that order books for the 2023 Durango SRT Hellcat will open in September, with deliveries starting early in 2023. Dashing through the snow in a 710-horse three-row sleigh has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Mahindra Taps Volkswagen For EV Platform

Mahindra Xuv Concept
Photo credit: Mahindra

While Americans will likely know Mahindra as a maker of tractors and nifty side-by-side ATVs, Mahindra produces some of India’s most popular SUVs like the Thar and Scorpio. Soon, some of its SUV portfolio will be electric. Mahindra’s aggressive EV rollout has five electric vehicles planned in the next four years, and Automotive News Europe reports that all of them will be underpinned by Volkswagen’s MEB platform.

Mahindra is the second customer for VW Group’s MEB platform after Ford, which will begin production this year of an MEB-based electric SUV built in its plant in Cologne, Germany.

The Mahindra electric SUVs will be sold under two brands — XUV and BE, the automaker said in a video presentation on Monday.

More than 1 million vehicles will be produced by the brands over the duration of the deal, VW said in a statement.

“The partnership not only demonstrates that our platform business is highly competitive, but also that the MEB is well on track to become one of the leading open platforms for e-mobility,” Volkswagen management board member Thomas Schmall said.

It’s crazy to see Mahindra going from producing the Bolero to producing EVs in such a short period of time. While the Volkswagen partnership definitely helps, leaping on the EV train signifies a dramatic shift in one of the world’s most important growing car markets. I’m eager to see the fruits of Mahindra’s EV efforts, as they sound rather exciting and promise a new design language we’ve never really seen before.

EV Customers Scramble For Binding Contracts Ahead Of Expected Tax Credit Bill Signing

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 would be ineligible for EV credits under the Senate proposal
Photo credit: Hyundai

Given the current affordability crisis, it doesn’t make much sense to erect barriers for greener transportation. Still, the U.S. government plans on doing so anyway. Reuters reports that President Biden is expected to sign the Inflation Reduction act on Tuesday, replacing the current EV credit methodology, tightening eligibility restrictions, and leaving some customers without binding contracts in the lurch.

Many automakers and dealers have been working with customers to complete binding written contracts ahead of Biden’s signing to make them eligible for credits even if they have not received vehicles.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group representing Volkswagen, General Motors Co, Toyota Motor and Ford Motor among others, said earlier the law would make 70% of 72 U.S. electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell EVs that currently qualify ineligible upon Biden’s signing.

On Jan. 1, when the bill’s new income and price caps and battery and critical mineral sourcing rules take effect, “none would qualify for the full credit when additional sourcing requirements go into effect,” the group added.

While none of this seems great in the short term, there is one smidgen of good news. Current tax credits on binding contracts are expected to be honored, and the scramble to convert orders into binding contracts could pay off for some consumers. Here’s to hoping that as many EV customers as possible were able to convert their orders to contracts, because reduced affordability for many mass-market EVs could leave some consumers out in the cold.

[Editor’s Note: We’ve written a comprehensive article on the proposed EV tax credits. It’s not simple, so I highly recommend you read that piece for full context (The new bill opens up EV credits in a way that the current system does not; the 200,000 vehicle limit per manufacturer, for example, goes away. Which is great). -DT]. 

Struggling Auto Suppliers Reportedly Seek Contract Renegotiation

Continental Tire Production
Photo credit: Continental AG

As the new vehicle supply crisis drags on, nobody with skin in the game seems to be having an easy go of things. While automakers certainly have it bad, suppliers seem to be having an even worse go of things. Automotive News reports that some automotive suppliers are wishing to renegotiate contracts to keep their heads above water.

Pat D’Eramo, CEO of Canadian Tier 1 supplier Martinrea International, has had a number of lower-tier suppliers ask his company to renegotiate their contracts, he says.

D’Eramo told an audience at an industry conference this month that several of his smaller European subsuppliers have recently gone bankrupt.

“I think every week we have a bankrupt subsupplier in Europe,” he said.

Amid the supply chain challenges and periodic assembly plant shutdowns of the last two years, many smaller suppliers have found it difficult to produce and deliver their product at a sufficient profit.

Parts and materials shortages have created a “start-and-stop effect” in the supply chain that is “catastrophic” for smaller firms, said Arun Kumar, a managing director in AlixPartners’ automotive and industrial practice.

Renegotiaton is a tricky act. While approved renegotiations would see higher costs work their way into new cars, failure to renegotiate would pose larger threats to supply chains as suppliers go bust. Automakers and Tier 1 suppliers don’t want to pay more for parts as that could eat into bottom line, but Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers are having a rough go of things and may not be able to continue to supply parts if they can’t make ends meet. This could have ripple effects down the line as certain OE replacement parts may simply dry up. That’s not a great scenario, so sensible renegotiation is vital to maintaining automotive supply infrastructure. Short-term pain for long-term gain, right?

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. The impeding death of the Hellcat engine feels like a somber occasion, and one that prompts a very important question. Which engine currently fitted to a production car will you miss the most when everything goes electric? While there are many awesome engines I could choose from, Jaguar’s supercharged five-liter V8 holds a special place in my heart. It’s just an angry lager-drunk meteorite of an engine, capable of tearing through silence like a strongman rips up a phonebook. It bellows and snorts and proudly tells everyone to get out of your way because your Jaguar currently works, and there’s something perversely wonderful about that.

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50 Responses

  1. The popular answer to what engine will you miss most is the LS1…it’s at this point THE template for a performance engine.

    My answer: any high revving strung out 4-cyl, think Honda S2000 engine. There is something so satisfying about using 100% of an engine’s power. Revving it out, hearing it scream, and feeling the power build.

  2. I’m not sure it’s fair to say that the IRA reduces EV credits. In fact, I’d say it’s a deliberately unhelpful simplification of the actual situation, and I hope it doesn’t represent the kind of journalism we can expect to keep seeing around here. When you tell only a fraction of the story but represent it as the whole in order to make a point, what you are doing is spreading misinformation. Please don’t.

    Let me attempt to set the record straight on what the IRA does and doesn’t do re: EV tax credits:

    First, it removes the 200,000-units-per-manufacturer cap, and makes the credit refundable. So by those criteria, a lot more people will be able to take the full credit, the dollar value of which stays the same at $7500.

    The catch, of course, is that there are protectionist strings attached, designed to push manufacturers into bringing battery manufacturing stateside. In the long run this will be a good thing for the US economy, as it represents one of the first actual, serious attempts in the last 40 years to onshore manufacturing jobs.

    Manufacturers will have to adjust, and yes, in the meantime it will be hard to find an EV that qualifies for the full credit. The requirements could probably have used a longer ramp-up time, so that manufacturers could more realistically keep up with the changes. I am told that this timeframe was something Joe Manchin insisted on, though—he wanted the stronger emphasis on building up US industry, EV tax credits be damned. The bill wasn’t going to pass without him, so this was one of the compromises. However, in the long run, the tax credit will be more generous than before because anyone will be able to claim the full dollar amount regardless of their tax liability, and the credit won’t go away after a certain number of units are sold.

    Does that sound like it can be fairly boiled down to “cutting current EV credits?”

    1. “in the meantime it will be hard to find an EV that qualifies for the full credit.”

      It cuts current EV credits, and people are trying to get in before the deadline.

      The story isn’t about the new credits, and there’s a ton of other reporting on those.

      1. The credits have not been cut. They remain $7500, plus a new $4000 credit for used EVs. They have, if anything, been expanded. The fact that the qualification requirements are difficult for manufacturers to meet in the short term does not mean that the credit itself has been reduced, and even if you insist on looking at it that way there are several other ways in which the credit can be seen to have increased.

        1. You’re being intentionally obtuse.

          If there is currently a credit on vehicle A, but new legislation eliminates that credit before it would have otherwise expired, it has been cut.

          It doesn’t matter if the new legislation puts credits on a wide swath of vehicles to buyers of vehicle A.

          1. Indeed, context is key. It is in fact a complex and nuanced subject which cannot be helpfully summed up in a single phrase. It is a subject about which there is already a great deal of misinformation. The job of journalists is to cut through the partisan, sloganeering bullshit and bring clarity. This article only muddied the waters further. That is the problem.

        2. I uses to work for a company that offered bonuses based on unachievable goals. Noone got the bonuses. The boss asked me if I, who was a good knowledge trustworthy worker, would be motivated buy a new bonus. I said no. He asked why. I said the goals aren’t achievable and if I did achieve you still wouldn’t pay. That’s what we have here.

    2. Given Mercedes’ genuinely comprehensive and evenhanded assessment of the IRA’s EV tax credits, I am guessing this is more a choice of poor/missing word on Thomas’ part than genuine malice or laziness. The word “temporarily” in front of a lot of sentences in that section would really clear things up.

      It’s also worth noting that electrified vehicles are currently supply-constrained. Even without tax credits, there is enough demand to keep every reasonably competitive EV flying off lots. In the 3-5 year span, you should see supplies finally catching up to demand right as geographic supply chain shifts ramp up the number of vehicles eligible for tax credit and therefore the demand for those EVs.

    3. The key operating word here is “current.” It’s absolutely fair to say that the IRA will cut current EV credits down to only cover vehicles under binding contracts and replace said credits with a new structure, for that’s the general plan.

      1. It would have been fair to say that they have been replaced with a similar credit that has different qualifying criteria, or that the credit had changed. It would have been fair to say that while some EVs which were previously ineligible due to production caps are now at least partly eligible again, few if any currently qualify for the full credit. There are more truthful ways to replace your statement that would not have harmed the overall meaning of the article.

        To say they have been “cut” implies that the credit has either been reduced, or removed without replacement. Neither is true, but there are many people who will tell you some version of that because it serves their political aims and/or reinforces their worldview. There are many in the automotive community who will latch onto any pro-environmental legislation and twist it this way and that until they can justify their dislike of it. What you wrote was of a piece with that, which is why I stand by my assessment that it was misinformation, and unhelpful. Perhaps it was unintentional, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, people are going to assume it’s a duck.

  3. The EV credit battery sourcing requirements kick in in 2024. For one sweet year the Bolt and any bottom price 3’s Tesla is willing to make will get a point of sale $7500 credit for household incomes below $300,000. That’s 95% of US households. I get it if that makes you mad because you make too much or wanted a Taycan, but that’s not what the bill is trying to incentivise. Maybe by the end of 2023 some battery sourcing changes are possible. This makes trying more worthwhile.

  4. Just because they’ll no longer be made doesn’t mean they’ll cease to exist overnight. The gassy bois will be reserved for the gearheads like us while the rest of the world that doesn’t give a damn about cars will go for refrigerators on wheels.

    But I’ll admit, I will miss just about every new ICE engine. From the Hellcats to the LS1s to the 2JZs to the RBs, etc etc. Even the commuter cars have special little powerplants that never want to quit. Though if it means we get to see the next century without being underwater, I’m ok with going full electric.

  5. “Which engine currently fitted to a production car will you miss the most when everything goes electric?”

    Daily drivers might go electric, but we will always have internal combustion engines. Period. Wars will be fought over keeping them on the road, and justifiably so. Not to mention, EVs are still decades away, no matter what pipe dreams people have.
    Fact is, you can either put down the EV crack pipe, or you can vote for a world without air conditioning, without hot water, without reliable power, but with cars that can only go to the scrapyard after 6 years, endless environmental destruction, and lots of child slavery. And those are the nice bits.
    If you’re ready to vote for cars you don’t even own in the eyes of the law built with lots of child slavery, then sure, you can have your BEV-everything. Because that’s the only way you’re going to get it.

    And we haven’t even touched on the fact that there is absolutely no such thing as Lithium battery recycling. Period. All the folks claiming to are straight up lying; the cost to recycle a single Lithium Ion battery is more than 10 times the cost to manufacture a new one. The most optimistic models say it’ll be 2035 before we even have technology to get near a break-even point on that. (Lead-acid batteries are different because it’s literally: crack case, dump acid, throw out the plastic because it’s not cost-effective to recycle that, smelt the lead.)

    For good or ill, gas ain’t going anywhere. I’ll wait and see what new fun stuff we get – definitely got my eyes on the FCAtlantis Hurricane. The Porsche 9A1’s still got many years in it, and metallurgy and composite developments will keep it going a while. CFD+FEA is also starting to make headway on real combustion simulation, combined with direct injection, stratification, and people finally realizing VGT is not a dirty word, and the absolute shitshow (with virtually no signs of real improvement) that is the state of charging availability?
    Yeah. We got a while.

    1. Wishing it into existence ≠ make it so

      Auto makers are intent on beating us over the head with this until we can’t distinguish the difference. In the mean time, they’re half-assing half-baked existing ICE technology because “the end is near anyway.”

  6. I assume some calculus of emission laws and customer demand/willingness to pay allow for trucks and SUVs to have powerful engines longer than cars, hence the demise of the Charger/Challenger and continuation of the Durango, TRX, etc plus introduction of the Raptor R and Escalade V.

    As for engines I’ll mourn, there are too many to count. Some particular ones:

    Ferrari/Lamborghini V12s
    Audi/Lamborghini 5.2L V10
    Ford 7.3L Godzilla V8
    Chevy LT6 (C8 Z06)
    Porsche 4.0 GT3 H6
    Toyota/Lexus 5.0 V8
    Toyota 3.5 V6 (IMO the best combo of power/durability/reliability in any engine of our time)

    Finally a shoutout to the Ford Coyote, Hemi (5.7 and 6.4) and GM 5th gen small blocks. The fact that in a world of hybrids and 2.0Ts, reasonably affordable V8s are still readily available in both cars and trucks is a minor miracle.

    1. This is completely indefensible bordering on misanthropic, but I will miss the the entire Subaru Boxer lineup.

      In wintertime, nothing signals the beginning of a great powder day like the SCREEEEURRNGGHH of a grumpy boxer four firing up on a cold morning.

  7. I’ll miss engines in general, the way they so strongly define a car’s character with their different torque curves, sounds, responses, and how they affect weight distribution. It’s the variety that makes cars so special to me. But if we’re talking one in particular that stands out, I’d say my unicorn is AMG. I wish I could one day go spec a big V8 C- or E-class from the dealer to take my kids to school, but the way things are looking, by the time I can afford one, the last of the AMG V8’s will be a classic and gas will be mail-order by the drum, with stations only stocking diesel for long-haul trucks.

    1. “… gas will be mail-order…”

      This is already pretty much the case for those of us buying two-stroke oil by the gallon for use in cars. Sure, it’s still possible to go into a hardware store and find tiny bottles of the stuff at high prices, as intended for chainsaws and the like, but reliably locating larger quantities while out driving is mostly a thing of the past.

      1. I see 2 stroke oil by the gallon at Wal-Mart and similar stores, and at AutoZone and O’Reilly’s every time I go in there. It’s also at the local Home Depot and Menards, but usually in 16 and 32 ounce bottles there.

        Maybe I see it more because I live near water, where thousands of 2 stroke engines are in use every day.

  8. The Flush

    I’ll miss nearly all of them. I’m no Luddite and I’m looking forward to the progress of EVs and hopefully saving our fucking planet in the process (I know it’ll take more than a switch to EVs). However, I was thinking about this recently as I’ve been driving cars from the family fleet that range in age and propulsion.
    I wouldn’t say that I enjoy driving my daughter’s Model Y as much as I appreciate it for reasons that are nowhere related to “fun”. After driving my Scat Pack, after switching from her car, I realize how much my love for cars is about all of the senses. The sound and feel of the engine and the gear changes. All of it.
    Cars will never provide the same joy and excitement from here on out, but maybe they can provide a new feel that I haven’t found yet.

    1. I’ll miss the 903 Lotus motor that was in my Jensen Healey. The only car I put blood sweat tears and big money into that had power. It’s a shame many people didn’t realize power in a British sports car. Think MG and Triumph with true HP. I once drove one at 120mph and didn’t realize I was speeding. The cop realized it but a car guy no ticket. O think EVs will give us noncar guy cops.

  9. I’ll miss all the combustion engines when they go away. I can’t imagine when I’m old taking my grandkids to a museum where they can hear one fire up and be amazed by it.

    Specifically I love all the large displacement Dodge motors and the now-extinct Ford 4.6 3V. The Coyote V8 is a solid motor but it just doesn’t seem to grab me like the older motors do.. and Chevy can suck it, I’ve never had a Chevy that worked right.

    1. I know what you mean – I have a 4.6 Mustang, and while the 5.0 Coyote of current Mustang fame is in pretty much every objective measure a better engine, it’s too…polished, maybe?

      The 4.6 feels more raw, which seems (to me anyway) to increase the visceral “engine-ness” of it. I’m past the point about caring about having the most power in vehicles, so I prize the feel more than anything.

  10. No surprise the Hellcat Durango would come back. They just had to get the emissions shit figured out. It went away because of emissions standards, but they must have fixed it for 2023. I hope the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk comes back, too. Make an SRT Wagoneer too while they’re at it. The more they can sell, the lower it costs to make them, the more of a business case they can justify.

    Aren’t OEM’s pretty lazy and delinquent with paying their suppliers? I heard it can take them a year to actually get paid. They need to learn something called NET 30, where they would have to pay within 30 DAYS.

    1. do you really think suppliers don’t know about that? what are the actual consequences of that being breached? sue an OEM and lose all of your income from future parts orders, or suck it up and wait to get paid?

      1. When I said “they need to learn..” I meant the OEM’s need to learn. Sorry for the confusion.

        Many suppliers don’t have enough money to wait a year to get paid. The OEM should be able to pay suppliers within 30 days.

  11. If I understand it correctly, the structure of the EV incentives bill really doesn’t help many people making regular wages. If anything, it’s subsidizing playthings for rich folks who have people on payroll to cook their books. This is short-sighted non-help from the government, to be filed under “money spent before it’s even come in.” Of course, we’ve always known the government not to be paragons of fiscal sense and restraint. Spending other people’s money is always easy.

    1. It sounds like you misunderstand. The new bill has all sorts of limits both in terms of overall vehicle cost and income limits. Additionally, the credits will now be applied at the point of sale instead of via taxes done at the end of the year. All of this is done to make the incentive accessible to the middle class.

      Many of today’s most popular electric vehicles are going to be disqualified due to how expensive they are.
      Many of today’s consumers of electric vehicles will be disqualified based on their income.

      I don’t necessarily agree with all of the changes, but calling it regressive is not honest.

    2. @Man With A Reliable Jeep
      If you break down the numbers, the EV tax credit does not only benefit the rich. Back of the envelope math, a single filer claiming standard deduction who makes $66,500 a year would pay about $7530-ish in taxes per year. The new bill won’t let you claim negative taxes if you’re not paying $7500 a year, but it does let you get that money off the purchase instead of waiting until tax day like the old system. It also has income caps of $150k single / $300k join. So yeah, someone making under $70k may not qualify for the full credit, and my math doesn’t consider joint filers or other deductions, but it definitely doesn’t only benefit rich people. Also, no vehicles sold in the US qualify for the full credit today anyway because battery raw materials are not sources in NAFTA countries.

    3. I’m not sure where you’re getting that idea. The bill actually specifically attempts to do exactly the opposite of that. Here’s how:

      • It imposes price caps on EVs that qualify for the credit.
      • It imposes income caps on people that want to use it.
      • It makes the credit refundable, so that people with a tax liability of less than $7500 can still get the full dollar amount.
      • It adds a $4000 credit for used EVs.

      All of this is to help make sure that the people benefiting are not just those who are already wealthy, and to incentivize manufacturers to make EVs that middle-class people can afford.

        1. 100%. There is a lot to dislike about this bill.

          My main criticism is that it’s not going to be effective, in that, people will not be ‘more likely’ to buy an EV based on this bill.

          People need to know and understand an incentive for it to impact their purchasing decision. This bill prevents premeditated calculation due to its complexity. Most likely, people who have already decided to buy will just find themselves getting a discount.

        2. That is not relevant to Man With A Reliable Jeep’s complaint, but yes, at least temporarily it will likely have that effect. That section of the bill could have used some adjustment. It was a compromise, mainly between Joe Manchin and the entire rest of the Democratic Senate caucus. In a narrow majority, you have to compromise to pass bills. This is what could pass. Look at it as a whole and judge it on the balance. On balance, it does a lot for clean transportation and energy, a lot to fight climate change, a lot to boost American manufacturing, a lot to make healthcare more affordable, and a lot to make the tax system more fair. It even reduces the deficit. It’s not perfect, but no product of the D.C, sausage factory ever can be. It’s not perfect, but it’s very, very good.

      1. Thanks, all, for the information and insights.

        Where it seems ineffectual, to me at least, is that it is a tax credit. I’m no tax accountant by any stretch, so maybe I’m doing it wrong, but I’ve never really had the opportunity to legitimately write much of anything off on my taxes. Nor do I believe I have enough qualifying tax burden to actually utilize tax credits like in this case. But, again, I don’t really mess around with that stuff because it seems like a good way to end up on the hook for a tax bill.

        1. It is a refundable, point-of-sale credit. Refundable means that if you don’t owe enough to swallow up the full credit, you get the remainder as cash. Point-of-sale means that you get it right when you buy the car, not the following April. Taken together, the credit is effectively an automatic instant rebate that anyone under the income cap can fully qualify for.

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