- Over the last few months there have been several headlines online speaking to SRT’s imminent demise.
- Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis told us that while it’s true that SRT engineers might no longer be sitting in the same office together, it’s not because Stellantis is killing SRT.
- Kuniskis also looks at electrification as a great thing for SRT: “It’s going to enable more performance than we’ve ever seen before. Ever.”
If it seems like you haven’t heard much from Stellantis’ SRT brand, it’s because you haven’t. Nor have we. In fact, what we have heard are lots of rumors, including SRT is dead or at least it’s being de-emphasized, and that SRT engineers are being reassigned to other projects. The internet is loaded with headlines such as, “Is Chrysler Really Killing SRT?” and “SRT is Dead.” To find out what’s really going on, we reached out to Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis.
“It’s like watching the news, and depending on what channel you put on you get a different story,” Kuniskis told us. “It’s kind of the same story with SRT. There’s a lot of rumors, then it quiets down, then they start to come back. One of the early comments from journalists is, ‘We’re not hearing a lot from SRT.’ Frankly you should never hear anything from SRT. SRT is a very important core engineering group within our company, but it’s not a communications channel.”
Kuniskis told us that while it’s true that SRT engineers might no longer be sitting in the same office together, it’s not because Stellantis is killing SRT. Quite the opposite, he says.
“We took this core group of people that were sitting in one building where guys were working on TRX in one area, and Rubicon 392 in another area, and Chargers and Challengers in another area, and sent the TRX group to work with the Ram engineers , the Rubicon 392 group to work with the Wrangler engineers and so on.
“People looked at that change and said ‘SRT is being disbanded.’ Absolutely not. It’s the opposite. It’s the right thing to do for performance because SRT today is a sub brand within Dodge. The highest trims are SRTs. It goes from base and rises to SRT. The highest performance of any of our lineups are SRTs,” he told us, comparing SRT to BMW M or Mercedes-Benz and AMG.
“None of those cars can exist without the base car team,” he told us, “because you don’t have the economies of scale of the base car. There would never be a Hellcat without a V6-powered Challenger and Charger. It would be impossible because you could never pay for the platform or the engineering. You have to the base engineering paid for with the volume cars and then you can have the performance sub brand that takes that car and modifies it.”
He told us that going forward SRT will become even more important.
“Today we sell internal combustion engines, fairly traditional layouts, eight-speed transmissions, front engine and rear drive—there are huge synergies with the base car. Now look at the future. I can’t give you a date but I can tell you the future is coming faster than we could have guessed 24 months ago and the shift to electrification is coming like a tidal wave.”
Kuniskis told us he looks at electrification as a great thing for SRT. “It’s going to enable more performance than we’ve ever seen before. Ever. We’ll be able to take the technologies that we know today, and bolster them with electrification and in some cases full battery power.”
He told us that the future of performance is bright with electrification “whether it’s PHEV, full BEV, or whatever.”
He told us that when we are living in an all-EV world, today’s business model of modifying a base car won’t work. “With the electrification it would be very, very difficult to do an SRT version after the fact because of constraints with things like a fixed battery pack size and shape, kilowatts per hour, the battery chemistry, and center of gravity. The inherent challenges will have to be addressed from Day 1. So integrating the SRT guys in with the base vehicle engineers was a necessity.”
He emphasized that the SRT team has not been made smaller, if anything they’re more important than ever.
To the people who say “it won’t work, the SRT team has lost its independence and won’t do crazy things anymore,” Kuniskis says “without the interconnection to the base car teams of what will unquestionably be the future of performance, there would be no SRT. We looked at the future of performance and said, ‘We need to get ahead of it.’”
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