The long-rumored Dodge Hornet is official.
Tim Kuniskis, the Dodge brand CEO, confirmed the news during an online meeting Tuesday with wrestler Bill Goldberg and Preston Patterson, the new Dodge brand ambassador who now carries the title “Chief Donut Maker.”
As he navigated a reporter’s question about Dodge’s electrification plans – the brand plans both plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles – Kuniskis offered what he noted moments later would qualify as a scoop.
“I think we’ve actually even said when we get back into the small compact space this summer when we launch the Hornet, we will have a PHEV or variant of that,” said Kuniskis, referencing the abbreviation for plug-in hybrid.
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The Hornet is expected to share an architecture with the Alfa Romeo Tonale compact SUV, which debuted in February and is planned for launch in the United States early next year. The Tonale, which is being built in Italy, will feature a plug-in hybrid version and feature a lower price tag than other Alfa Romeo models.
Dodge and Alfa Romeo are both part of Chrysler parent Stellantis, which also owns Jeep, Ram, Fiat, Maserati and several other brands, including Peugeot, sold elsewhere around the globe.
The specifics on the Hornet launch are muddied by supply chain challenges, Kuniskis said.
“This gray hair that I’m getting? It’s not COVID, it’s not lockdowns, it’s supply chain,” Kuniskis said. “Every single thing we’re doing is like in Jell-O right now because it’s so hard to plan anything.”
Hornet tied to Detroit car events
Kuniskis connected the Hornet launch or debut with a couple of major Detroit-area events this year.
“Right now we’re targeting August, probably around that Speed Week time,” Kuniskis said. “You know, we do Roadkill Nights and we have Dream Cruise and (during) the in-between week, we try to put some stuff in there, we call it Speed Week. Hopefully … it’ll be right about that time.”
Dodge has partnered for years with MotorTrend on the Roadkill Nights drag racing event in Pontiac, Michigan, ahead of the Woodward Dream Cruise. Kuniskis said the plan is to hold Roadkill Nights as normal, but all of the necessary government and related approvals take time so it’s still too early to definitively say it will happen.
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Hornet’s historic and Pixar ties
As for the Hornet, it represents a legendary name in automotive history.
The Hornet dates to the Hudsons of the 1950s, and carried over to American Motors Corp. when Hudson and Nash merged. AMC used the name on a line of compact cars in the 1970s, and AMC was eventually acquired by Chrysler.
Fans of Pixar’s “Cars” franchise might recall the name associated with Doc Hudson, the Paul Newman-voiced mentor to the headstrong Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson. Doc Hudson was animated, but he was based on a real car, the Hudson Hornet, which had an impressive racing streak in the 1950s.
The Hornet name was resurrected by Stellantis ancestor Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2006 when it unveiled a Dodge Hornet concept at the Geneva Auto Show. The company called the 170-horsepower subcompact hatchback concept “an ideal combination of American fun and European function.”
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