This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 24, 2008

Chrysler to Produce an Electric Car or Plug-in Hybrid by 2010

Photo of the Dodge EV, a two-door hatchback sports car with racing stripes, driving down a road, combined with a photo looking under the hatchback, which shows many large electrical cables running between a box marked 'Danger' and a box marked 'UQM' and also running out of sight within the car.

Chrysler has unveiled the development version of the Dodge EV all-electric vehicle, which looks normal until you open the hatchback.
Credit: Chrysler LLC

Chrysler, LLC unveiled working prototypes of an electric vehicle and two plug-in electric hybrids on September 23 and announced plans to bring one of the vehicles to market in the United States by 2010. Certainly the most eye-catching vehicle is the Dodge EV development vehicle, a two-passenger, rear-wheel-drive, all-electric sports car that combines a lithium-ion battery pack with a 200-kilowatt motor, capable of generating 268 horsepower and 480 foot-pounds of torque. That's enough to propel the vehicle to 60 miles per hour (mph) in less than 5 seconds and to reach a top speed exceeding 120 mph. Most notably, Chrysler claims that the Dodge EV has a driving range of 150-200 miles, approaching the range and performance of the all-electric Tesla Roadster. According to Chrysler, the Dodge EV can be recharged in eight hours using a standard 110-volt outlet, or in only four hours using a 220-volt outlet, the type commonly used for electric ovens and dryers.

Chrysler's plug-in hybrid vehicles—the Jeep EV and Chrysler EV development vehicles—are a bit more mundane, as they are essentially plug-in hybrid versions of the Jeep Wrangler and the Chrysler Town & Country minivan. However, they do represent the first use of hybrid technology in an off-road vehicle and a minivan by a U.S. automaker. Both vehicles employ roughly 200-kilowatt electric motors and have an all-electric range of 40 miles, the same as the Chevy Volt. With the help of a small gasoline motor and about eight gallons of gasoline, the Chrysler vehicles' range can be extended to 400 miles. Chrysler is exploring the use of in-wheel electric motors to create a four-wheel-drive Jeep EV and is also working with the General Electric Company to develop plug-in hybrids under a DOE contract. Next year, Chrysler plans to place 100 electric vehicles in its own fleets and in fleets run by governments, businesses, and utilities, and the company will select one electric-drive model to be produced in 2010 for sale in North America. Chrysler has even launched a new Web site to promote the efforts of its ENVI team, which is developing the electric vehicles. See the Chrysler press release and Web site, and for background information, see the articles from this newsletter on the DOE contract, the Tesla Roadster, and the Chevy Volt.

Chrysler actually has a history of producing electric vehicles through its GEM subsidiary, which has been manufacturing low-speed neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) for the past 10 years. GEM currently stands for "Global Electric Motorcars LLC," but Chrysler is marking the anniversary by renaming the company as "GreenEcoMobility." The company is also launching a more streamlined version of egg-shaped GEM NEV, which will be called the GEM Peapod. The new vehicle is scheduled for production in 2009, and future plans include a larger city electric vehicle and a light-duty commercial truck. Over the past decade, GEM has produced 38,000 NEVs with a top speed of 25 mph and a range of about 30 miles. The vehicles are street-legal in more than 40 states and can be recharged in 6-8 hours with a standard 110-volt outlet. See the Chrysler press release and GreenEcoMobility Web site.