When someone asks me about my EV, it's always one of two questions: "How do you like it?" or "How far can you go in that thing?" The conversation never kicks off about how the car drives, how quick it is, or anything about the actual enthusiast in me that is enthralled every time I punch the accelerator. I can't help but wonder if that might change one day soon, especially as Stellantis has focused on performance with the new 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona.

Welcome to Critical Materials, your daily roundup for all things EV and automotive tech. Today, it's all about the muscle, baby—dealers seemingly cannot wait to start selling Stellantis' first electrified muscle car, the 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona. Also,

Let's get started.

30%: The 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona Has Dealers Hyped

The 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona.

EVs are finally starting to enter their muscle car era. I know that feels like an oxymoron statement to make since the very definition of a muscle car is a boxy coupe with a high-output, oversized combustion engine. But Stellantis is hopping aboard the EV train, and it's bringing one of its most prized modern muscle cars with it: the Dodge Charger Daytona.

Some purists seem to have an issue with the Charger name being reused by something powered by batteries. But never fear, because the so-called "SixPack" will still have a combustion engine available for those who aren't ready to switch. Those who are, however, ready to sport the Fratzog are in for a good time, especially with 670 horsepower, 627 pound-feet of torque and a zero-to-60 sprint claimed to be just 3.3 seconds.

Dealerships are feeling good about it, though. Adam Lee, the chairman at Lee Auto Malls in Maine, believes that consumers just need to get behind the wheel to be convinced. Via Automotive News:

When you drive an electric car, whether it's a Tesla or something else, it's a thrill when you step on it. Even gas-powered cars, not many cars can do zero to 60 in 3 seconds. Before you rule it out, go try it and I think you'll find it's really a thrill.

This seems to be the same sentiment shared by many dealerships taking the leap towards electrification. The salespeople are finding not just the practicality in owning an EV, but with cars like the Dodge Charger Daytona, they're quickly finding the fun, too.

Michael Harrington, the general manager at Huntington Beach Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Southern California, shares his excitement about Dodge giving the consumer the choice of powertrains. Because, at the end of the day, it's the customer's decision on what they want to buy. Here's what Harrington says:

We've got to let the customers make the decisions. I understand that the EV is important and transitioning there is somewhere where we need to be, but at the same time, it's simple economics—supply and demand. The consumers haven't completely got there yet, so it's exciting to have a couple of different options.

Harrington said that he's ready for some "new blood" to hit the showroom floor. While the sunsetted Charger and Challenger models were a hit, their stint on the market was long. In fact, both cars were riding on platforms well over a decade old, albeit with some modernizations along the way. Dealers like Harrington are now blowing out the old muscle in preparation for the newest battery-powered offering.

The all-electric coupes are slated to begin production towards the middle of 2024, followed by the sedans sometime in the first quarter of 2025. The car's "ultimate performer," called the Banshee, will debut next year according to Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis.

60%: Tesla's Suspected Arson-Induced Power Outage Expected to Last Another 10 Days

Musk Tweet CM 20240307

Tesla confirmed that its German Gigafactory outside of Berlin will be down until at least March 17th due to complications caused by a suspected arson that near the plant earlier this week.

A fire was set to an electrical supply pylon near the plant, severing the power on Tuesday. This caused a complete work stoppage, leaving nearly 1,000 vehicles unfinished on the production line when the power went out. On Thursday, E.DIS, a subsidy of Germany's E.ON power grid operator, said it was working on a fix and hopes to restore power "as soon as possible."

An environmentalist group has taken responsibility for the supposed attack on Tesla. A 2,500-word letter confirmed by Reuters and local police calls out Tesla for being destructive to the environment, a narrative that Tesla has faced since it began work on its Gigafactory due to deforestation and water consumption, among other claims.

"We sabotaged Tesla," reads a letter penned by a group called Agua De Pau (the name of a volcanic mountain in the Portuguese archipelago of Azores). "Tesla consumes earth, resources, people, workers, and in return spits out 6,000 SUVs, killer cars and monster trucks each week."

Meanwhile, Tesla is envisioning a financial loss in the hundreds of millions. The company hasn't provided an exact figure, however, the factory has an estimated annual production output of around 375,000 vehicles per year, which means that it will lose out on the production of approximately 12,000 vehicles over the course of its outage, assuming work resumes on March 17th as expected.

"Stopping production of electric vehicles, rather than fossil fuel vehicles, is extremely dumb," posted CEO Elon Musk on his social media platform, X.

90%: Kia May Tap Thailand to Take on Toyota

Kia EV4 Concept

The need for affordable electric cars is apparent. Automakers from across the world are racing to the bottom, finding ways to cut costs and increase take-rate in order to achieve global dominance in the up-and-coming EV sector. That's a hard task when companies like China's BYD are able to produce BEVs for around $10,000.

Kia is now looking to put its hat in the ring in Thailand in order to position itself in the local market early. Government-backed sources have confirmed to Reuters that the South Korean auto giant is in talks with local officials to build a plant in The Land of Smiles.

The tip from the sources backs up an early report from Thailand's Board of Investment regarding Kia's interest in the country. The talks are likely incentive-based, as the country has rolled out large incentives and tax breaks to position itself as an attractive forefront for EV production.

"[Kia has] a serious proposal that they've come with. The ball is in their court," remarked one of the anonymous sources.

The Koreans aren't the only automaker reportedly eyeing up Thailand as a manufacturing hub. Reportedly, Tesla has also been in talks with government officials for the very same reason. Reuters recently reported that the Texas-based EV maker even surveyed land for a potential facility late last year, and the Thai government is said to have offered Tesla "100% green energy" to power its facility, should it be built, for either auto or battery manufacturing.

Either way, Kia is clearly committed to bringing "EVs for all." It was even the highlight of their electrification strategy outlined at its first EV Day in Seoul last year. Its plans are largely focused on bringing a range of EVs to the global market priced between $30,000 and $80,000, which may not position the brand exactly as cheap as BYD or other Chinese automakers that it will need to compete with.

100%: Would You Drive an Electric Muscle Car?

The 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona.

What's the equivalent of saying "vroom" or making revving sounds for an EV? A whistle? A whir? Either way, it's something that has lived in my head for a while. I remember going to car shows with my dad when I was a kid, and he pointed out every small modification on his favorite muscle cars from the '70s, and how he could tell specific years apart because of a small visual modification. It's one of the things that got me into cars in the first place.

Nowadays, people joke about nobody having a poster of a Tesla hanging up in their bedroom because it's not an enthusiast offering. I disagree. Major automakers are embracing electrification, and with offerings like the new Charger Daytona, it's going to usher in a whole new generation of enthusiasts. Sure, you can't slap on a shiny exhaust or turbo kit to an EV, but there is something to be said about a 3-second zero-to-60 sprint and the muscle car aesthetic that Dodge's offering brings.

All of that being said, is electric muscle on your radar? What classic muscle car would you love to see brought back to life with battery power? Let me know in the comments.

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