Following the similar path that GM announced not too long ago, Chrysler has announced that the Hemi engine “is not the powertrain of the future” as co-President Jim Press put it. This should not come as too much of a surprise as rising gas prices have already affected the sales figures for large V8 engines across the board. More and more people are opting for efficient V6 engines in their place.
Another obvious factor in the decision is the passing of the new CAFE standards. Chrysler is not about to spend the added research money into determining a way to make the Hemi fuel efficient enough to fit into the future fuel economy ratings. It would be a long and expensive path to take as direct-inject V6 engines are closer to spec and can come close enough in horsepower ratings to satisfy most buyers.
Just the same it is a sad day in the V8 community as this is the second time the Hemi engine has become a casualty to rising fuel costs and emissions laws. The 70’s witnessed the first abandonment of the large V8 during the fuel crisis of 1973 and as stricter insurance laws came into effect. What was left of the V8 was then thinned even further by the first emissions laws.
It is going to be interesting to see as auto makers move now to squeeze better efficiency out of their engines. Is direct-injection, or cylinder deactivation, or a 2Mode gasoline/hybrid alternative enough or will it have to be a combination of those and other options? No matter what path they choose I would not be willing to count the V8 as dead just yet. …Ya just never know.