You Can Now Buy A Carbon Fiber 1970 Dodge Charger Body Directly From Mopar For The Muscle Car Build Of Your Dreams

Morning Dump Dodge Charger Carbon Fiber

Dodge will now sell you a carbon fiber body, Volkswagen is running out of ID. Buzz vans, public charging is reportedly getting worse. 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.

Dodge Will Now Sell You Carbon Fiber 1970 Charger Bodies

Dodge Charger Carbon Body
Photo credit: Dodge

Among the new products Dodge has announced over the past few days, expansions to its Direct Connection speed parts program may be the most fascinating. For instance, you are now able to buy a carbon fiber 1970 Charger body directly from a dealership parts counter.

The carbon fiber body is licensed from Finale Speed, and isn’t the only one Dodge has planned. Carbon fiber bodies for Road Runners and Barracudas are also expected to make their way into the Direct Connection parts catalog. In addition to these wicked cool carbon fiber bodies, Dodge is giving drag racers a leg up by offering a rolling Challenger chassis with an NHRA 7.50 ET-certified cage and a Challenger body-in-white.

The Challenger Drag Pak Rolling Chassis packs some serious hardware in addition to a proper cage. The standard Challenger’s independent rear suspension gets ditched for a four-link setup with a Strange Engineering nine-inch rear end, and double-adjustable Bilstein dampers. Lightweight Weld wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires help put power down, while Strange Pro Series II brakes help rein in the speed at the end of the quarter mile. The rolling chassis carries an MSRP of $89,999 and fits a variety of powertrains depending on how you want to go fast. As for the body-in-white, it’s a simpler proposition with a much lower price tag of $7,995.

Those don’t seem like terrible deals, and it’ll be interesting to see what racers do with the new options. It’s always awesome to see OEM support for motorsports and outrageous builds, so I’m understandably stoked that Dodge is giving its customers options for building crazy fast stuff.

Two Thirds Of The Initial Volkswagen ID. Buzz Production Run Are Already Sold

ID. Buzz
Photo credit: Volkswagen

The public has been really falling in love with the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, so much so that Automotive News Europe reports that two-thirds of its initial production run are sold out. Volkswagen plans on making 15,000 ID. Buzz vans in 2022, and 10,000 have already been pre-sold. Norway reportedly leads the charge with 3,400 pre-orders, with Germany in second place at 2,500 orders.

Employees at VW’s plant in Hanover, Germany, where the ID. Buzz is built, were informed of the news by an email from VW Commercial Vehicle’s head of sales, Lars Krause, according to a report in Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche.

“10,000 orders, without the car actually being at the dealer, let alone a customer having driven it,” Krause wrote. “That is just impressive.”

“I am very pleased that the ID. Buzz and the ID. Buzz Cargo are already selling so well,” Krause continued. “We are, after all, still in the launch phase, before the market launch.”

“Pre-sales have not even started yet in France and the UK,” he added.

While the ID. Buzz isn’t a cheap proposition, it seems like exactly the sort of retro smash hit that Volkswagen needs right now. A halo product with serious recognition that’s fashionable to be seen in. For anyone who misses the initial wave of production, don’t worry. Volkswagen expects to make 60,000 ID. Buzz vans in 2023, with maximum capacity eventually peaking at 130,000 units per year. While it’ll be a long wait until America gets the ID. Buzz in 2024, it seems like a wait that could be worth it. Here’s to hoping the American-market long-wheelbase version looks as cool as the European model.

[I guess 10,000 cars pre-ordered isn’t really that impressive to me? Should it be? -DT]

Toyota Halts Production At Chinese Plant Due To Electricity Rationing

2022 Toyota Rav4 Xse 011
Photo credit: Toyota

It feels like every day we hear about plant interruptions due to supply chain shortages, so hearing of a plant temporarily halting production for any other reason feels almost bizarre. In a plant interruption that seems very strange at first, Reuters reports that a Toyota plant in China is temporarily shutting down due to electricity rationing.

Toyota’s joint venture plant in the city of Chengdu has ceased operations until Saturday, a company spokesperson said.

“We’re monitoring the situation every day and following the guidance from the government,” the Toyota spokesperson said.

Sichuan province is reportedly experiencing its worst heatwave in 60 years, and industrial operations in 19 of the province’s 21 cities including Chengdu face mandatory production suspension until Aug. 20 so that residents can run air-conditioning and not die. While a shutdown may be an inconvenience for Toyota’s joint venture plant, it’s certainly better than having some employees call in dead. It’s not often that we hear of climate change affecting vehicle production, but this is 2022 and shit really does happen. Here’s to hoping that residents of Sichuan province can stay safe in the face of temperatures that are expected to crest 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).

Public Charging Is Reportedly Getting Worse

An electric car plugged into a charging station.
Photo credit: “Electric car charging station” by Håkan Dahlström is marked with CC BY 2.0.

With a recent uptick in EV sales, there have been some quite valid concerns that public charging networks aren’t able to keep up with the public’s demands and expectations. If you’re looking for a sign that may indeed be the case, this could be it. Automotive News reports that a JD Power survey found worsening consumer sentiment towards public Level 2 EV charging.

Driver satisfaction with Level 2 public chargers is falling, according to J.D. Power’s annual U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Public Charging Study, released Wednesday.

“Not only is the availability of public charging still an obstacle, but EV owners continue to be faced with charging station equipment that is inoperable,” said Brent Gruber, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power.

Its survey of more than 11,000 EV and plug-in hybrid owners found satisfaction declined to 633 from 643 last year on a 1,000-point scale. Satisfaction with DC fast chargers stayed the same, at 674.

The J.D. Power study, conducted with EV data firm PlugShare, cited a shortage of available public charging as the top reason for the drop.

While a drop of ten points on a 1,000 point scale doesn’t seem hugely significant, let’s look at the bigger picture. Either score roughly converts to 3.15 out of five. You likely wouldn’t buy something from Amazon with a three-star rating, so why settle for three-star public charging? Level 2 charging is far from the DC hotness of Level 3 fast charging, it still plays an important role in public charging. Level 2 chargers make sense for places where people will spend lots of time, like subway commuter lots and workplaces. It’s much easier to implement than Level 3 charging, so if Level 2 charging is getting a failing grade instead of consistently improving, that’s damning the most basic part of the public charging ecosystem. Charging networks really need to get it together to provide widespread consistent, reliable service for EV owners everywhere. No more missed maintenance contracts, unexpected downtime, or insufficient charging station setups. Whether Level 2 or Level 3, charging should be as easy as filling up a car with gasoline.

[Editor’s Note: I could see how driver satisfaction could drop, especially as more folks adopt EVs, and the charging infrastructure problems become even more apparent. That doesn’t mean the infrastructure is getting worse, of course, but it does mean that the overall charging situation for consumers is. -DT].

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. We’ve made it to the middle of the week, so why don’t we play a game of fictional badge engineering. What new car would you rebadge under another manufacturer’s product umbrella and why? Weirdly enough, I think replacing the Lexus UX subcompact crossover with a badge-engineered Mazda CX-30 would do wonders for Lexus’ profile in the premium subcompact crossover segment.

Lead photo credit: Dodge

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29 Responses

  1. [I guess 10,000 cars pre-ordered isn’t really that impressive to me? Should it be? -DT]

    Two-thirds of production sold before one unit has been delivered to a dealer or showroom for a test drive. Four times the production planned in year two and then more than double that. All from a major carmaker. Not too shabby and a lot more real than the mythical Cybertruck. 🙂

  2. “10,000 orders, without the car actually being at the dealer, let alone a customer having driven it,” Krause wrote. “That is just impressive.”

    Likewise the Ford Maverick. They’re selling every one they can make to people who can’t see or drive one. At least around here, no dealer even has a demonstrator.

    I guess I’m glad that some people can make a large expenditure, but if I’m spending that sort of dough, I at least want to sit in one, and preferably drive it.

    1. I have actually test driven a Maverick, but this is rural Saskatchewan, right when they started rolling out.

      If you’re curious about what I think, it’s fine. I mean, I think it’s a neat truck but it just drives like a bland crossover. And I don’t like the door card. But otherwise, materials are at least interesting for the price, some personality in the finishes, comfortable.

    1. In the 1910s, there weren’t very many gas stations. Then folks started seeing the profit potential in selling gasoline, so they built them.

      When folks figure out how to make a profit selling electricity for cars, charging stations will be built.

    1. Personally, I think the DS line is going to get the chop. Stellantis needs to cut European brands and at least one of them has to be French to keep the Italians happy, so the recently-created one without a heritage extending back to the early days of the automobile is a logical choice.

  3. I like the carbon fiber idea. Considering what real examples you don’t want to cutup/modify are going for, not bad in the long run. Way out of my price range.

    As for a rebadge? How about the Toyota Century as a Buick Sedan (ie not quite a Caddy but more than a Chevy). Since Buick already has a history with the Century name, it could work.

  4. Really anxious to see what the buzz launch is like in the US. Given the msrp differential between the id4 and the buzz on VW.co.uk, I’m concerned it’s going to be priced stupidly high here, but who knows where the overall market will be in eighteen months. (I mean, I’m not betting on a return to sanity fwiw)

  5. Anecdotalness:

    They installed five chargers in my bank’s parking lot (with the nearby transformers surrounded by a RIDICULOUS number of bollards, as though there’s a compact fission reactor in there).

    I don’t know what Level they are, but without fail, two of them are down (red screen) every time I think to check.

    And I’ve never actually seen anyone charging there, either.

    2004 Subaru Forrester, with no need to get anything newer.

  6. Among the new products Dodge has announced over the past few days, expansions to its Direct Connection speed parts program may be the most fascinating. For instance, you are now able to buy a carbon fiber 1970 Charger body directly from a dealership parts counter.

    Fun thing… this actually came up on Twitter yesterday. More the ‘made to order’ thing. (Also, it is endlessly amusing to me that they’ve returned to the 1980’s Direct Connection naming after changing it to Mopar Performance for a ‘stronger connection to the brand.’)

    Once you have the bucks and molds, you don’t have to produce a million of them. You can do it on an as-needed basis instead of keeping stock. It’s a model that was pioneered successfully in 1980 by a little company in Arizona called Kaminari Aerodynamics. Who was in fact, a major contractor for both Chrysler and Shelby American. The CSX, CSX-T, and CSX-VNT’s extra bobs and bits were designed and made by Kaminari as well as many spoilers for Dodges. And most of those parts are still available for order, freshly made in 2022. As are their 280ZX body kits introduced in 1981. And yes, a few years ago, they did in fact add both pure CF and CFRP to their capabilities – even extending it to some existing molds.
    How’s a REAL carbon fiber, aerodynamically effective wing for your first gen Supra grab you? How about a pure carbon fiber hood for your 240/260/280Z? Yep. Price? WAY less than you think – $800 for the wing, $700 for the hood ($1000 with clear coating.)
    Welcome to the power of effectively managed “we make things to order.” Hopefully FCAtlantis extends this program to other cars. But they won’t. Because they’ve decided they’re purely a ‘muscle car’ company. Sigh.

    It feels like every day we hear about plant interruptions due to supply chain shortages, so hearing of a plant temporarily halting production for any other reason feels almost bizarre. In a plant interruption that seems very strange at first, Reuters reports that a Toyota plant in China is temporarily shutting down due to electricity rationing.

    Get used to hearing about this now, folks, because it’s absolutely going to be a thing later this year. And likely going forward. Much of Europe is scrambling to find electricity for this winter. Hell, Germany finally issued a temporary pause on the (extremely idiotic) forced shutdown of (basically fucking new) nuclear power plants.
    The analysts (who are not me, to be clear,) are predicting that there will be severe energy shortages in most if not all of Europe this winter. Already. Between the catastrophic drought that’s dried up the Danube, Russia’s genocidal war and saber rattling, and ever increasing demand – especially from EVs – there just isn’t enough to go around.
    And the fact is that “wear a sweater” is pouring a glass of water on a forest fire. Yes, 62.8% of energy consumption in homes is space heating – per the EC. There’s only one problem: just 27.4% of final energy consumption is residential homes – also from the fine folks at Eurostat. That’s it. Slightly under three quarters of all energy is being used by industry. The only way you can achieve a meaningful reduction is by targeting the largest consumers both by percentage (the 62.8% going to heating in homes) and volume (the industries using nearly 75% of all energy.)

    With a recent uptick in EV sales, there have been some quite valid concerns that public charging networks aren’t able to keep up with the public’s demands and expectations.

    The “network” doesn’t exist as it is, and it was already absolutely atrocious both in terms of maintenance and availability. My local Microcenter installed a charging station (EA I think, but I honestly don’t know.) Every time I’ve been there, I have seen someone either finding it completely broken or at least 1 charger completely inoperative.
    Gas stations work in part because there’s somebody there every minute it’s open. If a pump goes down, they might be able to fix it themselves. And if not, they can mark it out of service and call a service technician to come out and fix it – potentially in less than 30 minutes.

    Highly complicated, extremely sensitive systems, carrying absolutely ridiculous amounts of energy which are literally thrown into random parking lots with absolutely no effective supervision or monitoring whatsoever was NEVER going to work. Anybody with half a brain could have told them that, and probably did. Repeatedly. You need someone there to deal with the guy literally forcing the wrong plug into his car, the POS computer crashing, the network going down, take your pick of problems.
    “But they monitor them remotely!” Oh please. I fucking work in industrial systems these days, and these people are trying to do it with literally less than a tenth the budget. And guess what? When that sensor goes offline, I can’t tell you why or what’s broke either. Maybe it’s the network. Maybe it’s the sensor. Maybe the machine is literally on fire. I have no idea.
    So then they dispatch someone to fix it – maybe. If they notice. After all, they have how many thousands of different locations with dozens of sensors each? And it’s obvious they haven’t built the system to cope with that or to prioritize effectively. Or they have and they simply don’t have any techs. Either way, that broken charging station? Nobody is hanging a sign that says “sorry, out of service.” Nobody is updating the app effectively. And nobody knows if or when it’ll be fixed.

    And it’s not like you can just go to the next charging station around the corner. There isn’t one. There are exactly two public charging stations in the entire town. Two. Every other station is at a dealership or large business, and reserved for customers or employees only.

    We’ve made it to the middle of the week, so why don’t we play a game of fictional badge engineering. What new car would you rebadge under another manufacturer’s product umbrella and why?

    … wait, I thought it was Thursday? Don’t confuse me like this, damnit!
    Anyway, that’s an easy one. And everyone’s going to absolutely love it or they are going to demand my head on a pike. Which makes it even better.
    Bring us… the Fiat Fiorno stepped roof version as the Ram Workvan.
    That’s it. That’s the whole thing.

    1. A lot of commercial Level 2 chargers don’t even have an O&M contract. Other than warranty, the installing company’s work is done once the unit is up and running. They’re not all that/em> powerful or sophisticated, though. A typical Level 2 charger is in between an electric dryer and an electric stove, in terms of power draw. I mean, 32A of 240V is not nothing, but it’s hardly exotic.

      If you ask me, the main issue is that these things aren’t being built to a high enough standard. They’re often the exact same units you’d have installed at your house, except sometimes with a payment system added on. It’s residential-grade hardware being employed in a commercial setting. Of course they break.

    2. It’s not so much “they’ve decided to be a muscle car company” as they’re going where the money is. There’s probably not a demand for carbon-fiber repro bodies for a ’41 Plymouth 4-door sedan or a K-Car wagon.

      It took me a minute to figure out you were talking about the South American Fiorino, the European one hasn’t had the stepped roof in years. Its’ case would be helped if the Toro is on the same platform giving them a small cargo van and a personal-use focused small pickup from one set of federalization expenses.

      1. No, it absolutely is “they’ve decided to be a muscle car company.”
        Do you know what the highest demand parts are in Mopar land? It’s not minivans. It’s not 1980’s station wagons. It’s truck stuff. “… oh. Shit. That makes sense,” says literally everyone. And to be clear, I’m not arguing for carbon fiber necessarily – I’m arguing for widespread made-to-order. Somebody needs a new bed for their 1988 Dodge Dakota, or replacement A-arms (they need ’em) for their ’02 Ram 3500 CUMMINS!! DUALLY!!, or just weather seals for their 1987 Plymouth Reliant.

        Everything these days is ‘just in time’ logistics. Nobody stocks parts. They order them from some gigantic warehouse which if it has them, will get them there in a day or two. And if the giant warehouse doesn’t have them, you’re fucked. And of course, parts are either sitting there wasting space – sometimes for YEARS – or gone.
        If you could in contrast, implement just in time manufacturing cost-effectively? You have essentially given customers a nearly indefinite, infinite supply of parts no matter whether it’s a minivan or a muscle car, with minimal to no waste. Obviously you just can’t do it with some parts – engine blocks for example, simply cannot be done cost effectively because of what’s involved in casting. Frames are similarly challenging because of the precision welding, but it’s not entirely unfeasible technology in the next 5 years – possibly less.
        But ECUs based on a common platform? Why would you stock any specific models or tunes? It’s not a regulatory requirement – only that you have suitable replacements. So instead of stocking 50 ECUs each for 10 models, stock 500 ECUs that you can throw on a bench, flash to the correct PN, and throw out the door that can support literally any model. (Believe it or not, no manufacturer actually does this. Not a single one. They pre-flash.)
        And for many parts, precision FDM (AKA 3D printing) is a feasible and cost effective solution for producing them on an as-needed basis, today. Someone needs a new plastic bezel for their 1977 Dodge Monaco, well, uh, why the hell did you preserve one of those? But so long as you’ve got the original design documents, that’s something that can be made in an hour. And the processes for metallurgical FDM are improving so rapidly, it’s no longer a technology problem, it’s just time and cost.

        And they could probably put the stepped roof on the European one without too much trouble. Unfortunately, the Toro’s based on the FCA SW4X4 and the Fiorino is based on the FCA Economy (the only US car it shared with was the Fiat 500, since axed from our shores.)
        Though I guess we could accept the Fiat Qubo which is a Fiorino with windows based on the FCA Small (related to the SW4X4.)

    3. Be careful conflating electricity and energy, as you do in your comment about Europe. Energy is an input. The outputs are electricity, heat, motion, and photosynthesis (food).

      Electricity is one of several things produced using various forms of energy (solar energy from the sun, chemical energy from natural gas, whatever). Apart from electricity, energy from a different mix of sources also creates heat (for buildings and industrial processes) and motion (for transportation).

      The energy crunch waiting for Europe this winter is primarily not about electricity, but about natural gas for heating (and kind of also electricity). That isn’t to discount your arguments about Europe’s other problems, and their causes, but I thought it would be nice to add clarity to your comment.

      1. Actually, those are ‘final energy consumer’ statistics, representative of all energy, from 2020.

        China is rationing electricity. Europe expects to have to ration energy. Not just electricity. How are you going to fire a coal power plant without coal? Heat a home with natural gas when the power plant has none? Run a steel mill without any coal, gas, or electricity?
        Everyone is over-focused on natural gas because of Nord Stream and Russia. If you’re outside of the EU or not exposed to German politics, it’s an easy thing to not understand fully.

        Basically, if it was just natural gas, it would not be a panic situation. But it’s not. Basically all shipping on the Danube has ground to a complete halt. Which has utterly crippled oil, fuel, and coal supplies.
        The drought is so severe, that the passage at Ruse is only 7 meters deep, essentially blocking all traffic. In some areas, it is the lowest it’s been in recorded history – going back hundreds of years. Worse, the water levels have STAYED below the minimums for safe navigation for days and weeks at a time. And has triggered environmental and ecological disaster along hundreds of kilometers of shore. It’s entirely possible that the Danube may never fully recover, and capacity may be permanently reduced. Everyone has clearly pointed to these severe conditions being a direct result of climate change; the water level has been dropping and worsening every year for well over 20 years now.

        Consequently, there’s no way to recover the shortfalls in time, or to make up for the loss in shipping capacity. So it’s an absolute clusterfuck from which there is no actual exit route. More electricity will not help homes that still rely on oil. More natural gas will not help when they can’t get it where it needs to go.

  7. Not another manufacturer, but I would make Corvette a part of Cadillac at least on the service side; this should have been done years ago.

    GM is about to sell a $200,000 exotic Zora that will be theoretically serviced in the same garage as a $12,000 Spark. Speaking as someone who has reluctantly taken their Viper to a dealership drop-off line amongst Darts, Journeys, and other subprime fodder and minimum wage Tech 1s, it is not confidence inspiring.

      1. Agree. I actually thought they should have evolved the C7 into a new front engine C8 and made the mid engine design a Cadillac sports car, but I’m one of those sad people who still thinks the Cadillac brand stands for something.

        1. You’re not alone. What I want is a new XLR with a front engine and a hard top folding roof. To be completely honest, I wouldn’t even be opposed to a twin turbo hybrid power plant in something like that. As long as it was long, and low, and I could cruise with the top down on balmy summer nights.

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