Bye, Bye Miss American Pie… and Big V8s, Too

2018 may be the last year for Chrysler as we have known it. Dodge, too. These two sell the automotive equivalent of lawn darts – big rear-drive cars with big V8 engines.

At still-affordable prices.

People love them but the government bureaucrats who have somehow been empowered to countermand our buying inclinations do not. Such cars use “too much” gas – notwithstanding we’re the ones paying for it – and so the bureaucrats have been systematically working for decades to make such cars artificially more expensive to build – and to buy – via punitive “gas guzzler” taxes.

These taxes – the actuality as well as the threat – are why the average new car is compact-sized, front-wheel-drive and powered by a small, four-cylinder engine. Before “gas guzzler” taxes – when the car industry was still largely free to build the types of cars buyers rather than bureaucrats wanted – and those buyers were largely free to buy them at a price that was reasonable because not grotesquely, artificially ballooned by punitive taxation – Americans, average ones, routinely drove big, rear-drive cars with big V8s.

The kinds of cars that Chrysler (300 sedan) and Dodge (Charger, Challenger) still build today.

But probably not for long.

The “gas guzzler” taxes applied right now are a mere Sunsteinian nudge in the ribcage compared with what’s coming.

Right now, a car company gets hit – and in turn, hits its customers – with punitive “gas guzzler” taxes if its fleet of cars fails to average 34.5 miles per gallon.  But tomorrow – 2025 – the fleet average requirement will almost double, to 54.5 miles per gallon.

Big, rear-drive cars with V8s like the 300, Charger and Challenger would incur enormous “gas guzzler” taxes under this regime, to a degree that would render them so artificially expensive to offer for sale that only very affluent people could afford to buy them – as is already the case with other big, rear-drive cars with V8s under their hoods.

The only car companies offering such vehicles besides Chrysler and Dodge are high-priced luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and BMW. And even they have had to retreat from V8s, which are now offered only in their highest-priced models, the ones in the six-figure range. (The 2019 Lexus LS – the company’s flagship sedan – will be powered by a turbocharged V6; it previously came standard with a V8.)

This backdrop accounts for the water-treading of Fiat – Chrysler (and Dodge’s) parent company with regard to the 300 and Charger/Challenger. These cars – which haven’t changed much in years – were due for an update this model year. To be based on the rear-drive Alfa (part of the Fiat family) Giorgio platform. This would have meant a renewed lease on life for rear-drive Chargers and Challengers – at still-reasonable prices.

2018 came  – and the 300, Charger and Challenger remain unchanged. The plans for using the Giorgio platform as the basis for updated – but still rear-drive and presumably, V8-available – versions of these cars were kiboshed.

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