With so much talk of electric vehicles approaching the marketplace, it appears that Chrysler was not about to be left out of the party and has announce that it will also be supplying a couple of entries to green-minded alternative-fuel seeking consumers.
Best known for its manly heavy-duty trucks and gas guzzling super-high-performance vehicles, the company has just announced the advent of three electric-drive vehicles, one of which will go on sale in 2010. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) achieve significant gains in fuel efficiency by combining powertrain systems, typically an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Batteries store energy captured during deceleration and braking, then that energy is used to drive the electric motor, reducing the work required by the gasoline or diesel engine. Unlike traditional hybrids, these three new Chrysler electric vehicles may be driven without using any gasoline.
The prototypes on display - a coupe, a minivan, and an off-roader -- give a glimpse into the very near eco-friendly future of Chrysler. Chrysler says it intends to bring these electric-drive vehicles to market quickly, and was proud to tout the availability of a broad range of choices for consumers - from front-wheel drive platforms, to rear-wheel drive, to body-on-frame four-wheel drive.
Additionally, Chrysler promises that a fleet of more than 100 of its electric vehicles will be on the road in government, business, and Chrysler development fleets by next year. Then, in 2010, at least one of the electric-drive vehicles will go on sale to consumers in North America, and later in Europe. Want to know which one will be inmarket soonest? Chrysler's not telling, but in the company blog at www.ChryslerGoesElectric.com, a coy Chrysler moderator says "We like to keep some things as a surprise. Which one do you like?" which indicates they may strive to bring the most popular choice to market fastest.
The three new eco-cars include the Dodge EV two-passenger rear-wheel drive sports car, a Jeep EV off-roader, and a Chrysler EV minivan.
The Dodge EV sports car promises high performance and zero emissions thanks to its three primary components: a 200 kW (268 horsepower) electric motor, an advanced lithium-ion battery, and an integrated power controller. The 200 kW electric-drive motor produces 480 lb.-ft. of torque, accelerating the vehicle from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds, while also claiming a top speed of more than 120 mph. And thanks to its quiet electric motor, the competition won't even hear you coming.
The Dodge EV offers a range of 150 miles between recharges - more than triple the average daily commute, and nearly double the range promised by other near-to-market electric vehicles (such as the Volt). To recharge the vehicle, owners may simply plug it into a standard 110-volt household outlet overnight. Or the recharge time can be cut in half by using a typical 220-volt household appliance power outlet.
The Jeep EV is an off-roader that promises to add new meaning to the Earth-friendly term "Tread Lightly." This range-extended electric vehicle couples the electric motor and the lithium-ion battery system with a small gasoline engine and an integrated electric generator to produce added energy. The Jeep EV has a range of 40 miles of zero-emissions, all-electric operation - with no gas necessary. But for longer trips of up to 400 miles, the small gasoline engine produces energy to power the electric-drive system.
Since nearly 80 percent of Americans drive less than 40 miles per day, or 14,000 miles per year, the technology in the Jeep EV should allow most drivers to drive using no gasoline and emitting no tailpipe emissions.
The 268-hp electric motor generates 296 lb.-ft. of torque in the Jeep EV. Its instant high torque and the ability to control each wheel independently helps this vehicle attain the off-road capability consumers expect from Jeep.
Finally is the Chrysler EV, a fuel-efficient minivan for families on the go. The seven-passenger Chrysler EV is (like the Jeep EV), a range-extended electric vehicle that puts electric-drive technology into the segment-leading Chrysler Town & Country minivan.
The Chrysler EV can drive 40 miles on its all-electric power, or 400 miles with the help of an integrated small displacement engine and generator. The Chrysler EV uses a 255 horsepower motor, producing 258 lb.-ft. of torque, providing zero to 60 mph acceleration in about nine seconds.
Additionally, Chrysler LLC, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors and BMW have joined forces to develop a fuel-saving full Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) system that incorporates four fixed-gear ratios for high efficiency and power-handling capabilities in a broad variety of vehicle applications.
As a result of its low- and high-speed electric continuously variable transmission (ECVT) modes, the system is commonly referred to as the "two-mode hybrid." During operation, the hybrid system can use its electric motors for both boosting and regenerative braking.
The first Chrysler LLC products to feature this technology will be the 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid and 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid, which promise to deliver around approximately a 40 percent improvement in city mileage (from the 13 mpg in the gas-powered version) and more than 25 percent improvement overall.
And don't forget: If you're after a glorified golfcart, a la the smart fortwo, but with seating for four, consider Chrysler's GEM. Already USA's number one zero-emission electric vehicle, more than 38,000 of its six models are in active use today. Building on 10 years of battery-powered innovation, the newest little Peapod "neighborhood car" will be available for purchase in 2009.
To find out more about Chrysler's newest trio of electric vehicles, go to www.ChryslerGoesElectric.com.