A 2024 Charger Widebody would only avoid marker lights thanks to this loophole

We mentioned in the main reveal of the 2024 Dodge Charger that it’s pretty darn huge. The coupe is longer and wider than a current Charger Widebody. It’s wide enough that I made a half-joking comment in a Facebook discussion about possible future models that could have more wild — and wide — bodywork. I speculated that a Widebody of the new car might need lights like a heavy-duty truck or one of the off-road specials like a Ram TRX or the Ford Raptor models. And then I thought, “Wait, actually, could it actually need that lighting, since that would be mighty wide?” So I went to double-check, which led me down a small rabbit hole of lighting law.

The 2024 Dodge Charger measures 79.8 inches wide — 2/10ths shy of the critical 80-inch threshold at which certain vehicles in the U.S. are required to don additional lighting elements. They consist of two lights at the front and rear at the edges of the vehicle, and then three lights front and rear in the middle of the vehicle. But what if Dodge does a Widebody? There’s no way they would only go a tenth wider on each side, after all, the outgoing Charger Widebody’s flares added 3.5 inches to the total width. That would mean it would need extra lights, right?

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor 141

Nope. As with all seemingly simple automobile regulations, this one has a weird caveat. Only “Multipurpose Passenger Vehicles (MPVs), Trucks and Buses” are subject to the requirement. Now a hatchback with two rows of seats could almost seem like a multipurpose passenger vehicle, but clarification in a 1968 letter from a NHTSA official shows how it, and many other cars, can avoid this classification. 

It says: “Multipurpose passenger vehicle’ means a motor vehicle with motive power, except a trailer, designed to carry 10 persons or less which is constructed either on a truck chassis or with special features for occasional off-road operation.”

The Charger is built on the STLA L platform, which is not really a truck platform like STLA Frame. And there’s not really any expectation or implication that it’s for off-roading. So Dodge could hypothetically go quite wide without clearance lights as long as it’s never meant to go off-road. Now if they were to make a lifted widened Charger to compete against things like a 911 Dakar, that would be a different story.

As for the point of all this, well, it’s mostly just a little look at some of the wonky details of American vehicle law. And it’s also now a venue to ask Dodge to build a crazy off-road wide-body rally Charger thing. How crazy awesome would that be? 

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