Chrysler's efforts to develop more environmentally-friendly vehicles have been distinctly overshadowed by the drama of their divorce from Chrysler and that 800lb green gorilla called Volt. New CEO Bob Nardelli is continuing to shake things up, though. Just a week after hiring Jim Press away from Toyota, Chrysler has set up a new group called ENVI.

ENVI is a skunk works project that will focus on the development of electrically-driven vehicles for Chrysler. It'll operate semi-independently within Chrysler to bring together all the technologies that are being worked on in various corners of the Auburn Hills tech center. Lou Rhodes has been appointed President of ENVI and he will report directly to Product Development VP Frank Klegon and Purchasing chief Simon Boag. The Chrysler press release is after the jump.

[Source: Chrysler]

Chrysler LLC Creates ENVI

Nardelli, LaSorda Announce New Chrysler Organization Focused on Electric-drive Vehicles
  • ENVI to focus on electric-drive production vehicles and related advanced-propulsion technologies
  • Lou Rhodes appointed President - ENVI
  • Frank Klegon and Simon Boag to serve as co-chairs for new organization
Auburn Hills, Mich., Sep 13, 2007 - Chrysler LLC announced today the creation of ENVI -- a new organization responsible for bringing electric-drive vehicles and related advanced-propulsion technologies to market. Lou Rhodes has been appointed President -- ENVI.

Rhodes will report to Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President – Product Development, Chrysler and Simon Boag, Executive Vice President – Procurement and Supply, who will serve as co-chairs of ENVI.

"The creation of ENVI allows us to focus on the development of a new generation of environmentally responsible Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge vehicles," said Robert L. Nardelli, Chrysler Chairman and CEO. "Under Lou's leadership, ENVI will develop electric-propulsion vehicles that will provide customers with more fuel-efficient vehicle options."

Prior to being named President of ENVI, Rhodes served as Director – Advance Vehicle Concepts and Innovation, leading Chrysler's strategic program verification process in the early stages of development, architecture and platform strategy. Rhodes' prior background includes numerous assignments in Chrysler's Advance Vehicle Engineering organization and Product Design Office. He joined the company in 1993.

With a focus on creating energy-efficient vehicles, ENVI will be located within the Chrysler Technology Center (CTC) in Auburn Hills, and will be comprised of a team of specialists in engineering, portfolio management, modular architecture, manufacturing, and procurement and supply.

"ENVI will operate as a 'start-up' with an entrepreneurial environment," said Thomas W. LaSorda, Vice Chairman and President. "The organization is empowered to leverage the vast resources within Chrysler to develop appropriate solutions quickly. The unique structure will facilitate a speed-to-market development process, employing innovation in all aspects of the business and exploring new and unique ways of engaging target customers into the production development."

Chrysler LLC, headquartered in Auburn Hills, produces Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Mopar® brand vehicles and products. Total sales worldwide in 2006 were 2.7 million vehicles. Sales outside of North America were the highest in a decade with an increase of 15 percent over 2005. On the heels of the company's record product launch year (Chrysler launched 10 all-new vehicles in 2006), the company plans to extend that streak with eight all-new products in 2007. Its product lineup features some of the world's most recognizable vehicles, including the Chrysler 300, Jeep Commander and Dodge Charger. The Chrysler Foundation, the company's philanthropic arm, gave $23.6 million in grants in 2006.