While it’s been nearly impossible to escape the buzz surrounding the Chevy Volt (apologies for the phrase) a great many journalists and bloggers had written off the chances of Chrysler making a splash in the new world of electric cars … a great many, but not this one.
Just a week after the Volt’s unveiling, Chrysler is playing its trump cards … pulling the curtain on not just one, but three brand new electric vehicles … one for each of its marquees. The iconic Jeep Wrangler and Chrysler minivan will be transformed into electric vehicles, along with a brand new Dodge EV sports car that Left Lane News has pegged as a reworked Lotus Europa.
The Dodge EV sports car is a full electric vehicle, capable of 0-60 times of less then five seconds, a 13 second quarter mile, and a top speed of over 120 miles per hour. The continuous driving range should fall between the 150-200 miles. You might want to park this baby next to the laundry room. Recharge time is eight hours via a standard 110-volt plug and four hours with a 220-volt appliance outlet. While design changes can be expected to the Lotus-engineered aluminum framed vehicle, we can only hope they tred gently with the grille.
The Jeep EV and Chrysler EV minivan are plug-in range-extended electric vehicles, with their propulsion systems designed more along the lines of the Chevy Volt then the typical converted plug-in Prius. A small gasoline engine/generator will provide power to the electric motor when the lithium ion battery packs run out of juice. The Jeep EV will run for 40 miles on pure electric power, with an extended range of 400 miles.
Chrysler has committed to the availability of at least one of the vehicles in 2010, but may bring all three to market, with plans for a good number of additional electric-powered vehicles. The company would not commit to a specific model, as the development of all three vehicles are happening in parallel.
“There will be surprise down the road.” stated Tom Lasorda, Chrysler’s Vice Chairman and President. “These will not be the only three cars.”
The effort will take place whether or not the federal government provides any loans. “We have to proceed to meet the customer needs,” said Lasorda. “We have to move into this space.”
While Chrysler has not committed to a battery supplier, it’s likely that A123 may be at the top of the short list. Availability is the gating factor, with Lasorta’s last words on the topic, “we need to have volume at the end of the day.”