Dealerships will be the only avenue for upgrades in the electric age.
Last month, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis revealed that the Charger Daytona SRT Concept would make an appearance at this year's SEMA show in a new form. Kuniskis and his team are well aware that roughly half of the brand's customer base modifies its cars, and Dodge does not want to lose out on these customers in the electric age. To that end, the automaker has revealed a Stryker Red example of the Daytona SRT Concept and shown that the car can be had with various levels of power. Future customers will also be able to enhance performance through dealer-equipped Direct Connection eStage 1 or eStage 2 upgrades that add more power, but aftermarket tuners won't be able to offer the same service.
As promised, the electric Charger can be had with nine different levels of power. The base model, with its 400-volt system, produces 455 horsepower, and if you add the eStage 1 upgrade, 495 hp is made available, while the eStage 2 upgrade boosts output to 535 hp. The mid-tier model comes with 590 hp as standard, with the eStage 1 and eStage 2 upgrades enhancing the car to 630 hp and 670 hp, respectively. The details of the range-topping 800V model are yet to be revealed, but regardless of which version you have, Dodge will not allow third-party tuners to unlock this added performance, much like Ford is doing with the latest Mustang.
"We don't want to lock the cars and say you can't modify them," Kuniskis told Carscoops. "We just want to lock them and say, 'modify them through us so that we know it's done right.'"
While some might see this as a cynical move, it's rather prudent.
For one thing, electric vehicles are yet to be fully understood by most individuals, and preventing modification-loving enthusiasts from fiddling with a technology they don't fully grasp is a good way of ensuring that there are no unwanted fires or other accidents caused by overzealous tuners.
Kuniskis also explained that dealerships will lose revenue from servicing and repairs as low-maintenance EVs gain popularity, and offering EV tuner upgrades via these dealers will help keep these dealerships afloat. Naturally, the CEO is aware that some will try to hack the system to upgrade performance themselves but said that the power crystals tied to a car's VIN will help guarantee future values of modified EVs. Essentially, these upgrades will be viewed in the same light as AC Schnitzer or Alpina upgrades are for BMWs. Thankfully, Dodge's EV modifications will be carried over to subsequent owners of a Dodge EV.