Earlier this week, US automaker Dodge announced a new safety feature for its rebellious and rascal muscle cars, the Challenger and Charger.
Now normally we whisper names like that here on SHIFT, because electrons are the order of the day, not gas-hungry quarter-mile machines. But we love when cars get safer or more secure, so we took a look at Dodge’s announcement.
… And came to the conclusion that it made no sense. Seriously, I’ve scratched a hole in my head the last few days.
That’s why I asked an expert – and Dodge – what was going on. But before I get to that, let me explain what is causing my confusion.
In short, Dodge’s new security feature is a type of two-factor authentication. Before starting the car, the driver must enter a four-digit code to unlock its full potential.
If the driver does not enter the code, the car will enter a low power mode where its engine will not run beyond idle.
This type of technology is nothing new. It can be activated as an option on Tesla vehicles, and it was used on Peugeot and Citroën cars as well – in fact my dad had it on one of his old cars, he tells me it was nothing. other than a fake, anyway …
Dodge says their cars will be limited to 675 rpm and produce less than 3 horsepower. In other words, it will roll at the pace of the walk.
According to Dodge, it is implementing the new security feature to add another layer of security to its vehicles and prevent car key relay theft.
It is good to note that this is not a feature only added to new cars.
Owners of loaders or challengers, with the 392 cubic inch HEMI V8 engine or the supercharged 6.2 liter HEMI V8 engine and manufactured after 2015, can all install the feature on their car for free. All they have to do is contact their local dealer.
But there is a glaring question here: why limit power? Why not bring the vehicle to a complete stop? It would be the ultimate protection against theft. It does not mean anything!
Seeking the truth
I spoke to Richard Billyeald, CTO of Thatcham Research. If you are unfamiliar with Thatcham Research, the company is investigating the safety and security claims of automakers. He made a name for himself noting auto safety systems for insurance companies.
Billyeald was as puzzled as I was. I explained the situation, told him I had no idea why, and then asked him what he thought was going on. His response was simple: “I can’t say our response will be much different.”
Billyeald admitted that there could be a number of reasons why Dodge decided to limit horsepower instead of cutting it off entirely – but he was still puzzled why he chose to only do half a job.
“I don’t see why you would want to allow the car idling, why not just bring the vehicle to a complete stop? auto? Billyeald added. “I think it’s just a little weird the way [Dodge] chose to go there.
Billyeald makes one thing clear, though: he’s very happy to see a major automaker like Dodge stepping up efforts to make their cars safer.
“I think the feeling is right,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t criticize it for a feature.”
Uncover the mystery
Dodge is implementing the new feature in response to the 150 auto thefts per day that occur in the United States.
In recent years, as keyless entry has become commonplace, thieves have started to use car key thieves who relay the unique signature of the key to unlock the car even if its keys are not nearby.
This means that a thief can open a car and leave without having the keys to the car. However, if the pilot also needs to enter a code to start the engine, it adds an extra layer of security. That’s what Dodge is doing here.
It aims to provide an extra layer of security for as many Chargers and Challenger V8s as possible.
I managed to speak to Dodge to clarify the situation, and when we consider this approach, it makes a lot more sense.
The spokesperson explained that the Charger and Challenger muscle cars have different driving modes, street, sport, track and most importantly. valet fashion.
Valet Mode is typically used when you want to hand your 700 horsepower beast to someone who might not be sure how powerful it is. Using valet mode limits the power and throttle response to make the muscle car a little more human.
Here’s where Dodge’s new safety feature comes in. The power restriction safety feature is actually an extension of valet mode. But instead of limiting the car to a few hundred horsepower, he restricts it as much as possible: at idle.
“Safety mode is based on the valet mode feature and allows the vehicle to be used, under performance constraints,” a spokesperson for Stellantis, Dodge’s parent company, told me.
“The constraints of the safety mode effectively negate any maneuverability, but it allows a change from P to D,” they added.
to dodge Could have Finding a way to bring the vehicle to a complete stop, however, by simply changing the valet mode, the company can offer the security update to more of its vehicles than not.
A full immobilizer program would have required more in-depth reprogramming of the drive modes and could have impacted other aspects of the vehicle. Building a safety mode on top of the already existing valet mode was an effective way to bring a useful new safety feature to as many Challenger and Charger owners as possible.
In addition, being able to drive only at a snail’s pace in reality could prove to be as effective in deterring thieves as a complete immobilization. Especially when they expect a quick getaway in a super powerful car.
Indeed, with car key theft theft posing a real threat to high performance car owners, it’s good to see that Dodge isn’t just adding this to its new vehicles, but the offering also to existing owners of loaders and challengers manufactured since 2015.
As ridiculous as it may initially seem, I think we can take this mystery as solved. And you know what, kudos to Dodge for trying to help as many of their drivers as possible, rather than just adding functionality to new vehicles.
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Published March 26, 2021 – 08:32 UTC