As we learned this morning from Bob Nardelli's appearance on CNBC, Chrysler LLC is getting into the electric vehicle game and plans to have something on the market by the end of 2010 – the same time GM plans to start selling the 2011 Chevy Volt. The vehicle in question will be one of these three EVs, all of which are powered fully or in part by electrons.
The first and perhaps most exciting is the Dodge EV, which is an all-electric sports car like the Tesla Roadster. In fact, Chrysler seems to have taken a few pages from Tesla's playbook, which is evident by the fact that its EV is wearing the body of a Lotus Europa at the moment. Lotus also worked with Tesla on the development of its Roadster and is probably offering its expertise in electronics and lightweight vehicle design to any automaker willing to pay for it.
Chrysler says the Dodge EV uses a 200kW or 268 equivalent horsepower electric motor mated to an "advanced lithium-ion battery pack and an integrated power control module". Peak torque is 480 lb-ft, which helps propel the lightweight Europ... Dodge EV to 60 mph in less than five seconds and a 120 mph top speed. Its range is pegged at between 150 to 200 miles with recharge times of 8 hours for 110-volt outlets and four hours using a 220-volt.
The Jeep EV and Chrysler EV, meanwhile, are both series hybrids like the Chevy Volt, which means they have an electric motor/generator that drives the wheels for distances up to 40 miles before an on-board small displacement engine kicks in to recharge the lithium-ion batteries or provide power directly to the electric motor.
Both vehicles feature an approximate 400-mile range on just 8 gallons of gas, which equates to 50 mpg. The Jeep EV uses an electric motor making 200kW (268 hp) and 295 lb-ft of torque, while the Chrysler EV uses a 190kW (255-hp) motor making 258 lb-ft of torque. However, Chrysler has not mentioned what range-extending gas engines will be used in either vehicle. Its engineers are also exploring in-wheel electric motors for the Jeep EV, which would benefit from being able to control power delivery to each wheel separately while off-roading.
One question you may have is where did Chrysler come up with these three vehicles? The automaker's in-house ENVI division is responsible for having developed all three under a veil of secrecy for over a year. Today's announcement, however, was light on details, so it remains to be seen if Chrysler can accomplish its goal of bringing one of these EVs to market by 2011. We see no reason to bet against them, however, as GM has proven what's possible when a big fire's been lit under your company's collective ass.