So despite generally being a terrible waste of arable land and smelling kind of weird, ethanol fuel is pretty cool stuff. Its unique characteristics offer engine tuners the ability to increase boost and engine timing in performance applications, both of which translate to more horsepower.
A lot of that ability to safely tune for more power comes from ethanol’s ability to resist detonation (aka knock, aka pinging). High-octane gasoline can do the same thing, especially when you start looking at expensive 100+ octane racing fuels, but it’s super costly (often between $10 and $20 per gallon) and not widely available, so most production cars aren’t made to utilize it.
An exception to that would be Dodge’s Demon if equipped with the new powertrain control module that came in the expensive Demon Crate. This gave owners a special high-octane fuel button on the dash and netted an increase of around 40 horsepower when using 100-octane fuel. Cool, right? Well, word ‘round the campfire is that Dodge could be working on something similar for E85, according to a report published Tuesday by MoparInsider.com.
Now, E85 and high-octane fuel can do similar things for power in a performance vehicle, but they’re different in some important ways. First, E85 is much more widely available from the pump, especially in places like California. It’s also a lot cheaper to buy per gallon, but because ethanol is less energy-dense than gasoline, your engine needs to burn a lot more of it to make the same power.
This increased fuel requirement puts extra strain on the fuel system, so it seems likely that an E85 Hellcat would be a special edition model, like the Demon or the Super Stock, rather than a Mopar Direct Connection performance parts package (like the Demon Crate) since you’d need much bigger fuel pumps and fuel injectors, etc. to make it work.
How much power could an E85 Hellcat make if SRT made one? Well, the sky is kind of the limit for the supercharged 6.2-liter V8. The Hellephant crate engine, for example, made 1,000 crank horsepower, so it’s not inconceivable that an E85 version could do the same.
If Dodge SRT does indeed end up producing an E85 Challenger Hellcat, it would make for one hell of a sendoff for the model as the brand gears up to begin its transition to electric power.