• Jan 14th 2008 at 5:25PM
  • 17
Click image for a hi-res gallery of Chrysler's concepts

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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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think the tone of the article is a little more snarky than it really needs to be. Yes, skepticism is indeed justified, but. . .

      Chrysler had *better* be working on some technology like this, and thinking about how to get it into some real products. If they don't, they're going to be left in the dust.

      • 7 Years Ago
      the EcoVoyager that is.
      • 7 Years Ago
      not true. The recent trail hawk concept previews an upcoming Jeep, The Nassau previes the design language of the upcoming 300 redesign, They have the Challenger coupe, and Journey which haven't even hit the market yet. They also have a few things in the pipe that haven't been mentioned yet. It's a long autoshow season. Remember , in the first couple months they evaluated and approved over 260 changes. unfortunately changes take time to implement. Check back in two years.
      • 7 Years Ago
      They're all ugly. The ecovoyager looks like the illegitimate offspring of a Cadillac and Nissan Morono.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The eco-voyager looks like that Lilo and Stitch character.
      • 7 Years Ago
      fugly concepts.
      • 7 Years Ago
      the new jeep renegade is awesome and my dad has the old version thats kinda like the liberty this one is so better
      • 7 Years Ago
      Seriously. What's the point of these far-out, pie-in-the-sky concepts? Way to burn some more cash, Chrysler.

      They're ugly, uninspiring, and, as the topper, the technology is almost entirely vaporware.

      As an added bonus, what's with the design-school idiocy that is the ZEO? This is the same vision of the "future" we've seen for the past 10 years.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Um... if they didn't spend money on pie in the sky concepts where else would they toss it? a host of clean diesels for north america? FSI like VW and now Ford? A host of hybrid options? Consumers don't want those, they want fanciful concepts that won't see the light of day, besides, who builds concepts which turn into actual production cars anyways... well aside from profitable companies like Audi or Toyota... I think Chrysler's really got their game plan down pat, this sure is proof.
      • 7 Years Ago
      it look like a nissan sentra to me
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well I'm sure he meant the design of the cars were pure concept where as the technology used in them could find themselves in a real car someday. Personally I like the Zeo.
        • 7 Years Ago
        >>> I agree with you, Tom. I'm sure that's what Mr. Klegon meant.

        I like the Zeo as well. Althought they are only concepts, it's not really too hard to see, with some modifications of course, any of these vehicles being put into production with conventional powerplants.

        A strong V-6 or perhaps even a V-8 in the Zeo. A diesel in the Renegade and something fuel efficient in the ecoVoyager.

        Given that, the future of these or similar designs could be a lot closer than we think.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Zeo shares some styling with the 1997 Copperhead concept.

      Personally I like the 3 concepts. They may be pie-in-the-sky when it comes to the first half of their powertrain, but doing a similar setup to GM's E-Flex is probably more likely. Copy, sure... but it's a sound design in theory. Now making it work and last more than the duration of a lease will be the hard part.

      Don't write Chrysler off yet, kids. They've come back successfully from the brink several times. I think the hatred around here is simply that they are not catering to the enthusiast anymore... which is a shame, but they need to take care of the bread and butter before they worry about the cake.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The problem is they are not catering to anyone. These cars a pure concepts because they have no idea where they are going in the future. Dodge = Sporty, Chrysler = Luxury, and Jeep = Offroad. Well, they did that with these concepts, but they have nothing in the pipeline at all except for an emegency makeover on two cars and a hybrid powertrain that they were a partner in developing with GM ane BMW. Where's the beef?
        • 7 Years Ago
        >>> Nicely said, MemphisNET. You hit the nail right on the head.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Catering to no one? We hate the PT Cruiser, they sell them like hotcakes. People want muscle cars, both pure and family - they sell them and pre-sell them. Nobody wants a van? Tell the hundreds of thousands of new and repeat buyers that.

        They have some weak spots, and admittedly some important ones (compact, subcompact and midsize) but I think this crisis is giving them a serious wake up call. Especially with the emergency surgery on their Sebring/Avenger.

        Concepts are to test design languages and showcase potential technologies. They rarely represent a real product. Although I will agree that they need some real products rather quickly.

        Oh, the Sebring, both Sedan and Convertible aren't that bad as cars. It's too bad their their horrible interiors are detracting for an otherwise ok car. Canyon carvers no, sport sedans, no. Everyday transportation that works yes.
      • 7 Years Ago
      my favorite part of the press release was the beginning when it said all technoilogy for future drivetrains will be common among the automakers....um yous till need to develop the powerplants. Has chrysler tested any of these types of systems like Ford, GM and Toyota? Don't think so.

      Second I'm glad Alex ain't buying it blindly. these concepts do underscore a change in the auto show circuit that concepts have to be more than they used to be, just design studies. has to be product oriented for the future.

      I can't think of any other concepts at the auto shows that were pure design studies like this. Even the ABAT would be based on the next Prius drivetrain.
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