CHELSEA, Mich. -- Fiat Chrysler plans to substantially increase production of the popular 707-hp Hellcat engines.
Tim Kuniskis, head of the Dodge and SRT brands, said the additional V-8 engines will help Dodge catch up to a "huge flood" of orders for Hellcat-powered versions of the Challenger and Charger.
He declined to say how many more Hellcat engines that FCA US will produce. The company manufactured about 4,000 in Saltillo, Mexico, so far this calendar year.
The 6.2-liter V-8 Hellcat is equipped with an 86-hp supercharger, and cars with the engine have been selling for well over sticker price since the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat debuted last fall.
"We're going to build more [Hellcats] for 2016," Kuniskis said. "We stopped taking all Hellcat orders months ago so that we could catch up to that demand, and then we will launch the 2016s."
Kuniskis said he is still filling existing orders for Challengers and Chargers. He said Hellcat production was already increased twice above the brand's initial estimates.
The popular Hellcats are having a halo effect across the lineup, Kuniskis said. "We've sold 88,000 muscle cars [this calendar year], Challengers and Chargers, and 4,000 of those have been Hellcats. It's a small sliver of what we sell, but it really creates a halo for the rest of the lineup," he said. "For example, the next highest car, the Scat Pack Challenger, I have essentially a zero-day supply. It's sold out."
The Challenger Hellcat went on sale in the U.S. in September, with the Charger version debuting three months later. However, Kuniskis said Dodge still doesn't have a full handle on what the demand is for the four-door Charger Hellcat version because it is still working through the Challenger order backlog.
The plan to produce more Hellcat engines lends some credence to recent rumors that Jeep was planning to launch a Hellcat-powered version of the Grand Cherokee SRT, to be called the TrackHawk.
Kuniskis said one production constraint on the Hellcat is not the availability of parts but that each engine is tested on a dynamometer, which measures force, for 42 minutes before it is installed into a vehicle. Said Kuniskis: "That takes time."