- Dodge wasn’t bashful about promoting the 710-hp 2021 Durango Hellcat SUV, telling potential customers they had only “one shot” at getting behind the wheel of the fastest team bus idling in the dropoff lane.
- Buyers were understandably frustrated when Dodge said last year that it would bring the Durango Hellcat back as a 2023 model.
- Seven original customers have now filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, asking for damages in excess of $5 million.
A class-action lawsuit was filed last week against the idea of the 2023 Dodge Durango Hellcat. Okay, technically, the lawsuit alleges that Dodge used “false and deceptive advertising and marketing” back in 2020 when it told potential buyers that the 2021 Durango Hellcat would see the only year of production but then reversed course in late 2022 when it announced the 2023 Durango Hellcat with nearly identical specs.
The lawsuit is asking for in excess of $5 million in damages, citing a few instances where Dodge representatives made claims that sounded like there wouldn’t be any more after that year. The big one? Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis said in a Dodge promotional video that “the Hellcat Durango will be a single-model-year run. When we turn the order books over to the ’22 model year, the Durango Hellcat will be gone. So you’ve only got one shot [to buy one].”
The lawsuit also quotes from a Dodge press release that attributes this to Kuniskis: “The 2021 Durango Hellcat is only a single-model-year run, ensuring that it will be a very special, sought-after performance SUV for years to come. Based on anticipated demand, all dealer allocations have already been reserved, but there is still some time to secure an unsold dealer order.”
Mad Enough to Sue
Based on those quotes, the case appears to have at least some merit. Dodge promoted this as a limited-edition, power-mad SUV, and some people paid out the nose for them. The lawsuit says some paid almost $115,000 for their Hellcats. Now, all of a sudden, Dodge is making more of what’s basically the same vehicle, and those people are litigiously angry.
Of course, there’s another side to this: why Dodge said it would only build a year’s worth of Durango Hellcats.
Let’s start with a brief timeline. The “one shot” video mentioned above was part of the Hellcat Durango’s introduction in July 2020. That same month, Kuniskis told Muscle Cars and Trucks that the Durango Hellcat would not be a serialized, limited-edition vehicle. Instead, Dodge was only building a small number because of the pandemic:
“With all of the changes we made in the plant to come back up [to production] post-COVID with the sequencing and spacing in the plant, it’s changed the number we can build . . . I don’t have an actual number but it will be less than 2000. I don’t know how much less than 2000. It will be determined by customer demand and how much we can build in that six-month period,” he was quoted as saying.
No Limit on 2023 Production?
COVID was part of the problem, but it became part of the solution. The global chip shortage allowed Dodge to make more Durango Hellcats by adjusting the production of other models. The final nail in the coffin was that the fuel-gulping Hellcats were not helping Stellantis meet its emissions targets. COVID-related disruptions are on the decline, and Dodge engineers were able to meet emissions regulations by changing the fuel tank, fuel filler and carbon canister, according to Motor Authority, which also cited a Dodge spokesperson as saying the 2023 Durango Hellcat will not be a volume-limited model.
Dodge did not respond to Car and Driver’s request for comment before publication. The company did tell other media outlets it does not comment on pending litigation.
Sebastian Blanco has been writing about electric vehicles, hybrids, and hydrogen cars since 2006. His articles and car reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Automotive News, Reuters, SAE, Autoblog, InsideEVs, Trucks.com, Car Talk, and other outlets. His first green-car media event was the launch of the Tesla Roadster, and since then he has been tracking the shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles and discovering the new technology’s importance not just for the auto industry, but for the world as a whole. Throw in the recent shift to autonomous vehicles, and there are more interesting changes happening now than most people can wrap their heads around. You can find him on Twitter or, on good days, behind the wheel of a new EV.
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