DETROIT – The first electrified vehicle for the Dodge brand under Stellantis will be a plug-in hybrid crossover called the Hornet, a resurrected name most recently used for a 1970s station wagon.
The compact crossover will be Dodge’s new entry-level vehicle, with a starting price of less than $30,000 for a Hornet GT model with a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. The plug-in hybrid model, which Dodge is calling the Hornet R/T, will start at about $40,000.
While the Hornet isn’t one of Dodge’s signature muscle cars, it’s an important vehicle for the brand’s sales and electrification strategy. It marks a return to the lower-priced mainstream market following the discontinuation of the Dart sedan and Journey crossover in 2016 and 2020, respectively.
“We think the potential is huge with the growth of this segment,” Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis said during a media briefing. He declined to discuss sales expectations for the vehicle, which was unveiled Tuesday night at an event in Pontiac, Michigan.
The compact crossover segment is one of the largest segments in the industry, but Kuniskis said Dodge will position the Hornet differently than competitors.
Dodge says the Hornet will have the top performance in the segment and offer unique aspects, including a “Power Shot” mode for the plug-in hybrid that instantaneously provides 25 more horsepower to the vehicle.
The Hornet R/T PHEV will have more than 285 horsepower and 383 foot-pounds of torque, according to Dodge. It will be able to travel more than 30 miles before a 1.3-liter turbocharged internal combustion engine turns on to power the vehicle. Dodge says the GT model will have at least 265 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque.
The Hornet GT is expected to arrive in U.S. showrooms late this year, followed by the plug-in model next spring. The vehicles will be produced at a plant in Italy alongside the Alfa Romeo Tonale, which has a shared a platform and components but different design characteristics.
Dodge also showed a concept vehicle called Hornet GT GLH (Goes Like Hell) – another resurrected name from the Dodge Omni GLH in the mid-1980s – that could be built using aftermarket parts or go into production at a later date, offering additional performance to the vehicle lineup.
The unveiling of the Hornet comes a day after the company confirmed it would discontinue the Dodge Charger and Challenger muscle cars at the end of next year. They are expected to be replaced by at least one new electric performance car starting in 2024.
Stellantis was formed by the merger automaker of Fiat Chrysler and France-based Groupe PSA. It has 14 auto brands including Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep and Peugeot. The company is investing $35.5 billion in vehicle electrification and supporting technologies through 2025.
The Hornet name was first used for a car produced in the 1950s by Hudson Motor, made popular in recent years by Disney’s “Cars” franchise. It was then used by American Motors in the 1970s, followed by Chrysler, now known as Stellantis, for a concept car that never made it into production in 2006.