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Chrysler's all-electric sports car  (Source: Detroit Free Press)

Chrysler Vice-Chairman Tom Lasorda unveils the new models
New all-electric sports car leads the pack.

While GM has generated a media frenzy over its upcoming release of the Volt plug-in hybrid, and even Ford is getting in on the act, little has been heard from Chrysler. That's all changed now, as the smallest of the US Big Three today announced plans to release three electric vehicles, including a totally new all-electric sports car. One of the three models will be on sale as early as 2010.

Chrysler unveiled an "electric range-extended" versions of their Town and Country minivan, as well as their iconic Jeep Wrangler. Both models will be plug-in hybrid variants. The automaker says each will have a 40 mile range on electric-only drive, at which time the gasoline engine will kick in.

This range is identical to GM's Volt, which should come as little surprise, given Chrysler has been working with A123 Systems, the same Lithium-Ion battery supplier GM reputedly will use for the Volt. Chrysler has not announced an official supplier yet, however, and says they are "working with multiple suppliers" on potential sources for batteries.

Tom LaSorda, Vice-Chairman for Chrysler, said the new models have been in the works for nearly two years. According to LaSorda, Chrysler's strategy is radically different than GM's. "We said we’ll take something more bold on the electric — all electric."

LaSorda said, "we didn’t want to spend the time on developing an all new platform, an all new car and then an all new propulsion system. We said we’ve got two icons for our company, a Wrangler, which is the icon for the Jeep brand, and the minivan, there’s 11 million-plus which we’ve sold. And people would say, ‘My god, they brought green to a minivan and Wrangler, this is unbelievable."

The most interesting of the new models, perhaps, is the new all-electric Dodge sportscar, capable of a 0-60 acceleration time of under 5 seconds. The vehicle's range will be 150-200 miles and will have a charging time of 6-8 hours on a standard 110v outlet. The vehicle will also accept a 220v supply, which will cut charging times in half.

No name or price was given for the sports car.

Chrysler has been hit hard by poor sales due to high gasoline prices. The automaker's sales have been down more than 20% in 2008-- a value double the industry average.

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RE: Lotus Europa?
By Aloonatic on 9/24/2008 9:02:38 AM , Rating: 2
I was just thinking the same thing.

The front of a Lotus Elise/Exige (guessing that the Exige is called Europa in the States?) but with the back of the last model Toyota MR2 roadster.

Still, it looks pretty good, there are worse cars that they could have taken "inspiration" from.

RE: Lotus Europa?
By mdogs444 on 9/24/2008 9:18:36 AM , Rating: 2
I read an article on Yahoo about this yesterday. It indeed does share design and parts/platform with Lotus and Telsa.

RE: Lotus Europa?
By Hoeser on 9/24/2008 9:23:44 AM , Rating: 5
It's not inspired by the Lotus Europa, it *is* the Lotus Europa... google it.

RE: Lotus Europa?
RE: Lotus Europa?
By Fnoob on 9/24/2008 10:10:46 AM , Rating: 2
Kinda looks like the bastard child of Mrs. Vette and MR2.

RE: Lotus Europa?
By Spuke on 9/24/2008 12:30:41 PM , Rating: 2
guessing that the Exige is called Europa in the States
It's called the Exige here too.

RE: Lotus Europa?
By Aloonatic on 9/24/2008 3:54:30 PM , Rating: 2

I vaguely remember the Exige being a version of the Elise which had an engine from a Toyota that passed US emissions laws or something.

Looking at the Lotus site it seems that there are far more Lotus cars than I thought, I'd never heard of most of the cars. Top Gear, you have let me down.

Seems odd that there is no reference to it being a lotus copy in the article though?

RE: Lotus Europa?
By Spuke on 9/24/2008 5:38:51 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like the US didn't get the Europa model.

RE: Lotus Europa?
By Raidin on 9/24/2008 5:50:54 PM , Rating: 2
I vaguely remember the Exige being a version of the Elise which had an engine from a Toyota that passed US emissions laws or something.

The Exige is the coupe version of the Elise. Both use the same Toyota engine. There wouldn't be a point in changing the name of the US version unless the name wouldn't market well.

The Elise didn't show up in the US when it was first introduced, but eventually made it here once Lotus decided to produce a US-street legal version, same with the Exige.

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