Detroit 2008: Chrysler concepts show us the green future. Or not.
We're back from the Chrysler press conference that saw the Detroit Auto Show debuts of the Jeep Renegade, Dodge ZEO, and Chrysler ecoVoyager. As we have mentioned already, each is born out of the automaker's ENVI program, the focus of which is on new, environmentally-friendly electric propulsion. As such, all the concepts share the same 200 kw (268 hp equivalent) electric motor powered by a currently nonexistent lithium-ion battery pack and augmented by a secondary "range-extender" in the Renegade and ecoVoyager. That includes a vaporware fuel-cell in the latter. It's all okay, though, because as Chrysler's Frank Klegon pointed out, these are "pure concepts." He then went on to say that these "pure concepts" would be seen "in future production vehicles," which left us confused. Follow the jump for some extremely in-depth analysis of Chrysler's electric vehicle concepts.
Chrysler says it has identified three types of consumers, which conveniently happens to be the same number of brands it operates. Talk about luck! First out was the Jeep Renegade that bears an uncanny resemblance to the 10-year-old Jeepster concept, is painted Subliminal Message Green, and (theoretically) has two electric motors (one for each axle) augmented by a Bluetec diesel "range-extender". We're guessing that it drove onstage under range-extended power. It also comes equipped for a scuba adventure, with twin underwater scooters mounted in back so that you and a friend can reenact the underwater battle from Thunderball at a moment's notice. Be careful, 007.
Second up was the Dodge ZEO, which I thought was ugly but Damon found less ugly. It's the sports car of the bunch, and based on the powerpoint slide Chrysler tossed up on the jumbo screen, it's marketed towards active-lifestyle folks who are into BASE jumping. Looking like a Mazda penned by stylists peaking on hallucinogens, it's powered by an all-battery setup that makes it the fastest imaginary 2+2 EV sports car with an LED-illuminated crosshair grille... EVER. Oh, and when you pick yours up from the local Dodge dealer, you'll be pleased to see that it has a range of 250 miles on a full charge. Or maybe you'll just buy that SRT Challenger you really want, which probably gets 250 miles out of a full tank of gas, so you're even steven no matter what.
Last up was the Chrysler ecoVoyager. This was the upscale car of the bunch, or at least as upscale as a blue orb with wheels can be. Its range-extender is a hydrogen fuel cell that, when combined with the ENVI motor, gives the 268 unicornpower greenmobile a zero-to-sixty time of 8.8 seconds... in a "pure concept" sense, of course. Also adding "pure concept" flair are B-pillarless construction and suicide doors, which we believe may be federally mandated for all concept vehicles, but we're not sure. Then the little blue car split open with a crack, revealing a teeny baby robin chirping inside. Well, no, not really, but it would have been very "eco" if it did.
Then it was over. Everyone clapped, and we all left unified in our enthusiasm for the green motoring future. You'll be able to get your own ZEO, Renegade, or ecoVoyager at Imaginationland Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge sometime during the Kucinich administration. Mark your calendars.
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