Geopolitical concerns lurk behind an EV future

In the past, the U.S. relied upon foreign oil to power a substantial portion of its energy needs. In the future, the country may develop a similar dependence, relying on a global rival to provide key materials needed for electric vehicles.

The shift toward electrification has left the U.S. auto industry in a vulnerable competitive state amid heightened economic and security tensions between China and the U.S., according to a report issued Thursday, Sept. 24, by a Washington, D.C., think tank.

China has consolidated control of key supply chains needed to produce EVs at global scale, according to the report from Securing America’s Future Energy, a nonpartisan group of military and business leaders that examines the convergence of energy policy and the transportation industry.

The U.S., on the other hand, remains dependent on imports for key minerals and materials needed to produce batteries, an imbalance that “should be deeply concerning” to policymakers and auto industry executives, says Robbie Diamond, CEO of the group.

“The 21st century will be defined by the relationship between the United States and China, and the strategic and economic promises of transportation technologies … are already at its center,” he said. “To truly compete against China’s ownership of these critical supply chains and new technology, we need to rehabilitate and transform our entire industrial ecosystem.”

From mineral extraction to battery supply to EV manufacturing, China has established itself as the preeminent hub for EV-related business, the group says. By last May, 107 of the 142 lithium ion battery megafactories that exist or are under construction were located in China, according to the report, titled “The Commanding Heights of Global Transportation.”

Further, the Chinese have focused on securing supplies of key materials used to produce battery cells, such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and graphite. China has 73 percent of the global share of production of lithium ion battery cells, per the report. The U.S., by comparison, controls 10 percent.

This isn’t the first time alarm bells have been raised about the competitiveness of the U.S. industry. In February 2019, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Managing Director Simon Moores testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, saying, “We are in the midst of a global battery arms race, in which so far the U.S. is a bystander.”

By contrast, China, eager to ease its dependence on foreign oil, made electrification a foundational tenet in a 10-year strategic plan the country embarked on in 2015 called Made in China 2025. Deploying a national, top-down strategy, China now sits in a prime position to build and supply what Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects will be a global stock of 500 million EVs by 2040.

The Securing America’s Future Energy report warns policymakers that U.S. companies are fighting an asymmetric competition, in which American companies are competing against the whole Chinese state rather than distinct Chinese companies.

Further, it skewers China’s economic conduct, saying the country deliberately circumvented World Trade Organization rules.

“It flouts global trade rules, undermines the market-based system by granting state subsidies to companies, denies foreign companies fair access to its markets while coercing technology transfer, steals intellectual property and fails to uphold the rule of law,” the report says.

In the transportation realm, those tensions are not strictly contained to EVs. They extend to efforts to develop self-driving vehicles and 5G technology.

Concerns stretch beyond economic competitiveness and may be a matter of national security at a time when China and the U.S. jockey for global power.

“We must assess the clear security concerns inherent in Chinese ownership of our transportation future,” said Gen. James Conway, co-chair of the Energy Security Leadership Council, a project of the group. “We have a brief window to mobilize our considerable resources to build a robust transportation sector free from Chinese control. If we miss that window, we risk jeopardizing our auto and truck industry and the 10 million U.S. jobs the auto industry supports.”

EV pioneer Nissan seeks to reclaim ground with high-tech Ariya

YOKOHAMA, Japan — A decade ago, Nissan spent billions to pioneer new auto industry ground by introducing the Leaf electric vehicle as a mass-market family car.

Together with alliance partner Renault, Nissan thought it could sell 1.5 million EVs by 2016 and promised new EV models in quick succession, including an all-electric premium car from Infiniti.

Not only did most of those nameplates never materialize, the alliance missed its sales goal by 1 million vehicles.

Even at lower volumes, the Leaf became the world’s top-selling all-electric nameplate. But this year, the car is on the verge of losing that bragging right to the Tesla Model 3.

Times have changed, but so has Nissan Motor Co. The world’s would-be EV leader is now charging up for a second crack at the segment, and the automaker is as optimistic as ever.

In a series of interviews with Automotive News, top executives said Nissan’s latest push will be different for several reasons. Nissan’s technology is improved, the market is more receptive, and perhaps most important, the company’s aspirations are more realistic.

The first test comes in 2021 with the launch of the Ariya electric crossover, the kickoff vehicle for Nissan’s next wave.

“We’ve come a long way,” CEO Makoto Uchida said. “The Ariya will represent what Nissan is.”

A lot is riding on the Ariya, not just for Nissan but for its fragile alliance with Renault.

The high-tech crossover — a more upscale model than the Leaf — is a linchpin in Uchida’s gambit to elevate Nissan’s brand image as it becomes a smaller, smarter company. At the same time, the Ariya’s newly developed dedicated EV platform is supposed to deliver on the promise that Nissan and Renault can achieve better synergies and cost-sharing — something the partners famously failed to achieve when they rolled out their individual first generation of EVs a decade ago.

Under the new umbrella of EV cooperation, four more EVs are coming from Nissan by early 2024, plus an electric crossover from Renault.

This year, the alliance automakers, which now include Mitsubishi, adopted a new “leader-follower” strategy globally, and Nissan was entrusted with spearheading the important development of midsize EVs for the group.

Yet success is anything but guaranteed for the new generation of EVs.

When the Leaf debuted, it stood out among a small clutch of competitors in an entirely new segment. By contrast, the Ariya must fight in a maturing market packed with compelling rivals.

Nissan also must persuade customers to shell out more money — possibly much more — for the Ariya, which is loaded with the latest electric powertrain and automated driving technologies.

A sudden jump upmarket will be a tall order for a public used to Nissan as a discount brand.

Nissan also may be hard-pressed to sustain the outlays needed to keep its EV lineup fresh in the coming years. Nissan is braced for its biggest-ever operating loss this fiscal year. Its setbacks have spurred a companywide campaign of cost cutting to bolster the bottom line.

“During this period, Nissan will be facing an extremely difficult time in terms of profit,” said Koji Endo, an auto analyst at SBI Securities in Tokyo. “They have to reduce expenditures while somehow keeping investment in new products. Some projects might not be able to get enough budget.”

Nissan’s strategy hinges on a new common-module family platform for EVs called the CMF-EV. Nissan began working on it about four years ago, sharing it with Renault.

In March, Renault previewed plans to use CMF-EV with the Morphoz concept, a crossover counterpart to the Ariya. The Renault CMF-EV entry is expected to go into production at the end of 2021 or early 2022 and be built in France.

By comparison, Renault’s first EV, the Zoe, shared almost no significant engineering with the Leaf — even though joint synergies had been the alliance’s raison d’etre when the two automakers joined together in 1999.

The CMF-EV was designed for flexibility, with Renault specifications in mind, said Executive Vice President Kunio Nakaguro, Nissan’s global R&D head. It can accommodate variable battery sizes, body shapes and motor configurations, from single to double. In addition to the crossover, body types might include a hatchback, sedan, multipurpose van or even a sports car, Nakaguro said.

Nissan is working up another EV platform for Japan-market minicars. An all-electric mini, based on the IMk concept shown at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, is one of the upcoming EVs.

The CMF-EV layout allows a D-segment interior in a C-segment package, thanks to a smaller drivetrain system. Because the system is more compact, engineers could push the air-conditioning unit into the front motor compartment, saving room in the cabin. A flat floor further opens cabin space.

Moreover, new electric drivetrain technology delivers longer range and sportier acceleration.

The Ariya offers two batteries, a 65-kilowatt-hour system and a 90-kWh version. Both are improvements over the Leaf’s 62-kWh pack. The Ariya will come in two layouts: a one-motor, two-wheel-drive version and a two-motor, all-wheel-drive variant called e-4orce. Nissan promises a range of up to 300 miles for the 2wd version with the bigger battery. The e-4orce awd version, meanwhile, will sprint as fast as Nissan’s racy Z sporty coupe, the company says.

Spunkier acceleration comes from a bigger electric motor that has a higher rate of maximum rotation. The new motor churns out 160 kilowatts from the small battery and 178 kW from the big one.

At the same time, a new lithium ion battery achieves higher energy density to help extend the range. It replaces the Leaf’s graphite anode with a silicon-graphite one. And to help reduce cost, the new cathode dials up the use of less expensive nickel and reduces the use of pricier cobalt and manganese.

The battery pack also adopts a lightweight aluminum frame over the steel frame used in the Leaf. Finally, the new battery has a more effective liquid-cooled system instead of the Leaf’s air-cooled structure.

Nissan isn’t disclosing the name of its battery supplier yet or revealing where its cells are made. But the packs are assembled near Nissan’s Tochigi plant north of Tokyo, where it will make the Ariya for Japan and global markets. Nissan spent about $310 million last year to modernize the factory, best known for the GT-R and 370Z sports cars, to manufacture EVs as well.

In addition to its new powertrain, the Ariya will be packed with other costly technology, including Nissan’s ProPilot Assist 2.0 driver-assistance system and the latest connectivity systems.

But all those goodies lift the vehicle’s starting price to about $40,000, and the sticker may climb rapidly higher for the top-tier awd variants with the big battery. That represents a significant jump over the expected $26,000 entry point for the just redesigned gasoline-powered Rogue crossover.

But the Ariya’s mission is to lift the brand as much as its sales volumes, COO Ashwani Gupta said. “For us today, the product will drive the brand, not the brand drive the product,” he said.

The Ariya headlines Nissan’s new “A to Z” marketing campaign, which the company hopes will refocus customers on Nissan’s upcoming products after the sordid arrest of former Nissan and Renault Chairman Carlos Ghosn threw the companies and their partnership into chaos for much of the past year and a half.

The “Z” stands for a next-generation Z car that was previewed Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Whereas the first-generation Leaf was simply meant to establish a presence in the EV market, and the second generation focused on improving performance, the Ariya aims to build the image and generate buzz. In the U.S., Nissan hopes it plays a critical role in the drive for what it has been calling “quality sales.”

“This is the flagship of our new Nissan,” Gupta said. “We have to demonstrate the capacity of Nissan to go to the next generation. We have to graduate from a ‘good brand’ to a ‘great brand.’ We can only make it by three things — demonstration of new products, demonstration of new technology and discipline in the way we do the business. It’s very simple.”

Uchida said the Ariya’s early unveiling — a year before starting sales in the U.S. — was meant to give Nissan time to telegraph the vehicle’s value and have customers warm to the upmarket move.

Nissan insists customers worldwide are more interested in EVs and that technological improvements are putting range anxiety in the rearview mirror. But the company also is more circumspect now than it was when it brought the Leaf to market and launched three assembly plants around the world to build the vehicle.

For now, Tochigi will be the sole source of the Ariya, though a plant in China may someday come online.

Gupta declined to give a sales target for the new model but clarified that it won’t be a volume player like the Sentra, Rogue or Altima.

SBI Securities’ Endo predicted global deliveries of just 30,000 a year. Inovev, an automotive market research group, predicts 50,000 sales annually.

Under its Nissan Next business plan, the automaker wants to ramp up to selling 1 million electrified vehicles in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024. But the large majority of those are not expected to be full battery-electric vehicles, but rather vehicles equipped with Nissan’s e-Power series hybrid system.

Since launching the first EV in 2010, Nissan has sold 482,000 Leafs, bringing its cumulative global total of EV sales to 640,000 through July.

The new CMF-EV platform will make it easier for Nissan and Renault to spread volume across the alliance, said Ivan Espinosa, Nissan’s senior vice president in charge of global product planning.

“There’s a lot of flexibility that allows the platform to provide a wide spread of choice for the companies,” he said. “You can play with the wheelbase. You have specific tuning of the powertrain, you have specific tuning for the chassis elements. We will keep building on this architecture. You can think of doing cars a bit larger, which could come to the U.S. eventually.”

Espinosa said the U.S. is warming to electrification, but customer tastes are changing. Buyers want vehicles every bit as mean as they are green. Thus, the U.S. marketing message for the Ariya will be centered on “confidence” and “excitement,” Espinosa said.

“Excitement of driving is a selling point,” he said. “What can be really appealing to a U.S. buyer is the joy of driving an EV, the acceleration you get, the excitement of driving these cars.”

But Nissan now faces a rush of new EV competition from well-endowed companies, including Tesla, Volkswagen and General Motors. Even EV skeptic Toyota plans to get into the game.

But Nissan executives say that surge in competition is proof that EV demand is finally reaching a critical mass.

Since unveiling the Ariya in mid-July, Nissan says the vehicle has attracted more than 35,000 hand- raisers worldwide. The U.S. has the second-highest number, behind Japan.

“This is the most advanced car that Nissan has done in its history,” Espinosa said. “Customers are starting to be much more interested in these technologies. There is no doubt about it.”

Peter Sigal contributed to this report.

Automakers feed China’s hunger for crossovers

SHANGHAI — Just like Americans, Chinese shoppers are developing an insatiable appetite for crossovers and SUVs. And that is where automakers are targeting a growing number of their products.

At the Beijing auto show, opening Saturday, Sept. 26, global brands will attempt to wow audiences with new vehicles for those segments.

Two years ago, Volkswagen, the market’s largest car brand, went on what it called an “SUV offensive,” expanding its offerings of crossovers and SUVs from three to 10.

At the Beijing show, the German brand will step up that offensive. Two of the three new products to be staged are crossovers — a sporty version of the Tiguan crossover known as the Tiguan X and the ID4, the first locally produced model for its ID EV brand. The third model will be an all-new Golf sedan. All three vehicles will arrive in the market over the next few months.

But the VW brand plans to grow from 10 crossovers and SUVs to 16, and to boost the segment’s share of its sales from 31 percent to 50 percent by the end of 2021, VW Group China CEO Stephan Woellenstein has said.

Chinese sales are migrating in that direction.

Although China’s light-vehicle market has been contracting for the past two years, crossovers and SUV market share has continued to grow. In 2019, crossovers and SUVs accounted for 44 percent of China’s overall sales, up from 41 percent in 2017, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

This year, despite the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the segment grew again, reaching 47 percent for the first eight months.

What is leading Chinese car shoppers to abandon other types of vehicles boils down to driving experience, according to Wang Zhixiong, an SAIC-VW retailer in the east China city of Danyang.

“These vehicles are fun to drive as they offer more space and a better view for drivers than sedans,” he said of crossovers. SAIC-VW is VW Group’s joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp., which markets vehicles for VW brand.

Wang said he’s glad to see VW further expand the lineup of crossovers and SUVs. Most of the new crossovers VW has introduced in recent years have been built and distributed by FAW-VW, the German auto giant’s partnership with China FAW Group.

The Tiguan X and ID4 will be built at SAIC-VW and will be marketed via the joint venture’s dealerships, like his store.

Ford is not missing out, either.

At the Beijing show, Ford will display eight models for Chinese consumers. Except for the F-150, Mustang and the new Focus, the rest will be crossovers and SUVs. They are the electric Mustang Mach-E, making its China debut, as well as the all-new Territory, Escape, Explorer and face-lifted Edge, according to information Ford disclosed last week.

Toyota’s Lexus brand will showcase special editions of three existing hybrid products, two of which are crossovers: the NX 300h and extended RX 450h. The third model will be the ES 300h sedan.

Hyundai also intends to raise its crossover profile for the Beijing show. The only all-new China-market product the Korean automaker will present this week will be the fifth-generation Tucson crossover.

Sputtering Fiat: Little for U.S.

Fiat’s days in the U.S. look to be numbered. The only offerings left after 2020 are expected to be the 500L and 500X.

While Fiat Chrysler Automobiles offered 2021 product details for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram, it hadn’t shared any such information for Fiat as of mid-September, leaving the brand’s future here in doubt.

124 Spider: Production of the slow-selling two-seater is expected to end this year.

500L: The subcompact crossover could be redesigned in 2024, if the brand is still around in the U.S. then.

500X: The next generation of the subcompact crossover, Fiat’s only all-wheel-drive vehicle, could arrive in 2025. But will it reach U.S. shores?

Kelly, Nissan and Japan itself go on trial

TOKYO — Shortly before Thanksgiving 2018, American auto executive Greg Kelly got an urgent message saying he was needed in Japan for important business at Nissan Motor Co., where he was a director.

Kelly initially balked at the idea. The longtime Nissan human resources executive was at home outside Nashville, preparing for the holiday and a spinal surgery that was scheduled for shortly thereafter. But he acquiesced when the company offered to dispatch a chartered jet to pick him up.

Only after the plane landed in Tokyo on Nov. 19 did Kelly realize the trip was a ruse. Prosecutors arrested him that night and took him to jail in a coordinated swoop that also netted his then-boss, Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn.

Nearly two years later, Kelly’s closely watched criminal case came to trial last week, and the man accused of colluding with Ghosn to hide about $86 million in deferred compensation is fighting back. Also on trial is Nissan Motor Co. itself. And as executives and companies around the world watch the outcome, so is the business culture of Japan.

For Nissan, the Tokyo trial could bring some closure to a corporate scandal that convulsed the automaker and ruffled its 20-year alliance with French partner Renault.

For Japan, the trial turns an unflattering spotlight on its society, its legal system and its attractiveness as a place to do business.

For Kelly, who turned 64 the day his trial began, Tuesday, Sept. 15, the case will decide whether he returns to the U.S. as a free man or spends perhaps the next 10 years in a Japanese prison.

The crux of the case is whether money earmarked for Ghosn for after retirement was decided each year as part of his overall compensation or whether it was a separate pool of money to keep him on board with Nissan after retirement, perhaps as an adviser. If the funds were actually part of his compensation while he was CEO and chairman, Nissan would have been required to report them in its financial reports. It did not.

Prosecutors maintain the funds were indeed part of Ghosn’s compensation and that Kelly orchestrated how they were handled. In his defense, Kelly maintains that Ghosn’s post-retirement compensation plans had not been decided or finalized and, more significantly, that Kelly was not even involved in arranging all of them. Other Nissan executives had a hand as well, he says.

At one time, Ghosn was expected to be present here last week, too, defending himself on the same charges and helping to corroborate Kelly’s defense. But instead, the indicted former chairman evaded court by jumping bail last December and fleeing to Lebanon in a daring escape.

Kelly was joined in the defendant’s dock last week by Nissan Motor Co. as a corporate entity. Like Kelly, Nissan is accused of failing to file financial reports that accounted for Ghosn’s full compensation. Kelly pleaded not guilty; Nissan said it won’t contest the charges.

Kelly said his work on Ghosn’s post-retirement compensation was strictly legal and called his ex-boss an “extraordinary executive” who needed to be retained so he wouldn’t jump to a competitor. It was for Nissan’s benefit, he added, because of Ghosn’s influence over Renault.

“This was all in the best interests of Nissan,” Kelly said in court, dressed in a dark suit and red tie and wearing a mask to guard against COVID-19. “I was not involved in a criminal conspiracy.”

Ghosn, for his part, has maintained that the charges were fabricated by Nissan in an attempt to block him from following through with greater integration of Nissan and Renault.

For Nissan, the stakes are high. Some executives, past and present, are privately concerned that a not guilty verdict for Kelly would further tarnish the company’s reputation after it spent a year and a half trying to clean up fallout from the Ghosn scandal. They worry that, in the court of public opinion, a courtroom victory for Kelly would be tantamount to a not guilty verdict for Ghosn as well.

The reality is more complicated.

Ghosn was indicted on two additional charges of breach of trust, accused of diverting company money for his private use. Kelly has nothing to do with those charges, and since Ghosn has fled Japan, they likely will never be hashed out in court.

But Kelly will still likely be seen as Ghosn’s surrogate.

As the trial began, Nissan issued a statement expressing confidence in a guilty decision.

“Based on substantial and convincing evidence found in the investigation, Nissan established that Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly intentionally committed serious misconduct and significant violations of corporate ethics,” Nissan said.

“The company contends that the facts surrounding the misconduct will be shown during the court proceedings and the law will take its course.”

Japanese prosecutors have a lot riding on the Kelly case as well.

It is reportedly the first time anyone in Japan has been prosecuted on charges of filing false compensation reports. It is also a test run for the plea bargaining system that Japan has only recently adopted.

Two other Nissan executives were able to avoid prosecution by cooperating with investigators. They were accused of helping Kelly and Ghosn conceal deferred compensation.

Other flashpoints of criticism: the Japanese system’s penchant for jailing suspects at length without bail; not allowing defense attorneys to be present when suspects are interrogated; and the practice of keeping suspects waiting long periods for trial — in Kelly’s case, some 22 months.

Japanese prosecutors wield substantial power. Days before trial, Kelly’s defense team said it was still waiting for the government to share some 70 boxes of evidence. And the prosecutor’s office also won’t even publicly disclose the names of the attorneys prosecuting Kelly in court.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at Yale School of Management, said Japan’s legal system and its handling of the Ghosn and Kelly affair make it a less appealing place to do business.

“Who won’t think twice before taking an assignment in Japan, now that their justice system has been revealed to be so unfair to foreigners?” Sonnenfeld wrote this year in Chief Executive magazine after Ghosn fled to Lebanon. “What are the next paths countries such as China and Japan and other nations may take in holding business leaders in harsh conditions without charges or counsel, in systems far more reminiscent of kidnappers or pirates than modern states?”

Three U.S. senators also published a letter in support of Kelly, calling his predicament a “cautionary tale” for Americans working in Japan.

“If Americans and other non-Japanese executives question their ability to be treated fairly in Japan, then that most important bilateral relationship in the world is at risk,” Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said in the March letter published with RealClearPolitics.

Executive search firms in Japan say those concerns are overblown, though the saga is sometimes a topic in recruiting foreign talent.

“Ghosn’s issue comes up, but it’s not the decisive factor,” said one headhunter in Tokyo. “But it makes us all want to never have to deal with the authorities. You want to cooperate.”

Last week, Japanese prosecutors said Kelly plotted with Ghosn to effectively hide more than half of his compensation by deferring payouts until after he retired.

Prosecutors alleged they did so beginning in 2010, the year Japan changed its corporate reporting rules to require executives with big pay packages — those totaling more than ¥100 million ($947,000) a year — to disclose their individual compensation. Ghosn, long under fire for pulling down one of the highest salaries in Japan, wanted to hide his full pay to avoid public criticism, authorities say.

Kelly listened to an English interpretation of the proceedings through an earpiece. His wife, Dee Kelly, sat front and center. Kelly has been barred from leaving the country since the day of his arrest, and in order to be with him in Japan, his wife maintains a student visa by studying Japanese.

Kelly described how Nissan was on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1990s, only to be saved by the tie-up with Renault and the arrival of Ghosn, who went on to become CEO and chairman.

“Mr. Ghosn was an extraordinary executive,” Kelly said. Even though most industry watchers thought Nissan was doomed, Kelly said, “Mr. Ghosn proved the experts wrong.”

The prosecution and the defense agree that efforts were made to pay Ghosn more.

Kelly said that he, former CEO Hiroto Saikawa, other executives and internal and outside attorneys brainstormed ways to keep Ghosn on board, and they only considered measures that were legal.

In the end, nothing was finalized. Thus, the defense argued, there was no requirement to disclose any of the arrangements in financial reports.

The fact that other Nissan executives, most of them Japanese, also worked on compensation plans for Ghosn but evaded prosecution should be a red flag, Kelly’s American lawyer James Wareham said before the proceedings.

“The statute is hopelessly vague. And it’s being used in a racist and unfair way against Westerners and not against Japanese citizens,” he said.

Kelly may have to wait another year to learn his fate. The trial is expected to run through July, and a verdict may not come before autumn 2021. In the meantime, he has yet to see his 9-month-old grandson. And the pandemic prevented his sons from visiting him in support during the trial.

Isolated in Japan, where he lives with his wife in a downtown apartment, Kelly stays connected with the States via video calls. His wife said she would make a pesto dinner at their home away from home to celebrate his birthday and the end of his first day before the Tokyo District Court.

“He’s not guilty. He didn’t do anything wrong,” she said outside the courthouse. “And he really cares about Nissan, still.

“I don’t root for the disaster that [Nissan is] facing right now. I think it’s terrible. But I think they lost their perspective.”

Dodge flexes trimmed performance lineup

Dodge is going all-in on performance.

The Grand Caravan has ended production, and the Journey won’t live past this year, leaving the attitude-laden brand with only the muscular Durango, Challenger and Charger.

All three nameplates are getting power boosts for the 2021 model year, with the Durango joining the Hellcat family for a limited run with the supercharged engine.

The vehicles have had long lives in their current forms, but Dodge has found its niche and continues to cater to performance enthusiasts.

Charger: The speedy sedan finally gets the Redeye treatment with a 797-hp model. The SRT Hellcat Redeye, along with the standard Charger Hellcat model, comes with a newly designed, functional performance hood. Dodge said the hood design “provides maximum air intake to the high-output supercharged powerplant.” The 2021 Charger is scheduled to start arriving in dealerships in early 2021. A redesigned model could arrive in 2024.

Challenger: The new SRT Super Stock trim carries the “drag-racing, quarter-mile-crushing spirit” of the limited production 2018 Challenger SRT Demon iteration, Dodge said. The first Super Stock is a 2020 model on sale now, and the brand has promised to have “the ultimate Dodge drag-racing model in the 2021 model year.” A Challenger redesign is possible for 2024.

Journey: The compact crossover, after a 12-year run without a single redesign, will go out of production by the end of the year.

Crossover: A new crossover based on FCA’s minivan platform could replace the Durango in 2024.

Durango: The freshened Durango large SUV will arrive this year. It adds a 710-hp Hellcat engine next year, but that speedy hauler will only be available for the 2021 model year. The Durango in its current form debuted as a 2011 model, but it has held its own in the heavily contested three-row utility category. The Durango is scheduled to be the second Fiat Chrysler Automobiles model to hit the market with the new Uconnect 5 infotainment system, after the 2021 Pacifica minivan. The 2021 Durango gets a new interior with driver-oriented cockpit, and FCA’s contract with the UAW says a hybrid version will be available. Production of the Durango is expected to continue until 2023.