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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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By Oregonian2 on 9/24/2008 12:47:23 PM , Rating: 2
What are you talking about? The Chrysler EV (minivan version) has an eight gallon gas tank and can go 400 miles on it, according to Chrysler. Although those with commutes of less than 40 miles round trip (like me) can use no gas at all on a daily basis, it has a gas engine electric power source as well -- yielding a 50 mpg gas car as a result (well, more like 40 mpg because the first 40 miles weren't using the gas). So even if I forget to charge it, it's still a very high MPG gasoline minivan.

A full charge using 115V takes 8 hours, less if one has 220/240 available. But the charge is not mandatory.

Not mentioned in the article, Chrysler has a dedicated website about these cars, it's linked to in the regular news articles about it (look in Google news). The minivan version is the one I wish were out now, and if the price weren't too astronomical I'd probably get it (and because it is leveraging off a current design, perhaps it won't be).

RE: The novelty electric car is doomed from the start
By Keeir on 9/24/2008 1:09:11 PM , Rating: 2
(well, more like 40 mpg because the first 40 miles weren't using the gas).

I find thier claims a little bit... far fetched. They are claiming thier mini-van will acchieve 45 MPG city?

The Cd of the Chry. Mini-Vans is typically ~0.35 with a frontal Area around ~31 ft2.

For comparison, the Prius has a Cd of ~.26 and a frontal area ~23 ft2.

This means the drag component has a difference of 10.85 (Mini-Van) to 5.98 (Prius).

I would also think the mini-van would have a higher mass than the Prius

There are gains in efficieny to having serial hybrid design and running a maximum fuel efficieny point at all times, but there is a limit to how efficient a gasoline engine can be. Somehow, I doubt that the serial+engine Chrysler is designing can power a mini-van to the same level as a Prius... it may require increasing energy out per gallon of gas by 25-50%! (Which seems to indicate a massive leap in engine technology... something not typically easily accomplished or produced in very short time frames)

By Doormat on 9/24/2008 1:30:23 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, the Volt is supposed to get 45MPG on the gasoline generator. The idea that the minivan will also get that seems laughable.

If you work backwards, the Volt should get about 9kWh from a gallon of gasoline (200Wh/mi * 45mi). If the van is using 275Wh/mi as I estimate, it would get about 32MPG, or 260 miles on gasoline alone. Still not too bad, but I would expect Chrysler to up the fuel tank to 10 gallons before its all said and done, and offer a combined range of 360, or 320 on gas alone. Unless they've managed to build a more efficient electric generator and get more kWh out of the gallon of gas.

By JediJeb on 9/24/2008 3:04:02 PM , Rating: 2
One thing to consider though is the minivan has a lot more room to put in a larger engine and generator which would not have to work as hard as the smaller ones in the Prius so maybe that is where they are making up the difference. Just like a Vette or Trans Am can get 25+ mpg highway, if the increase in size/weight/engine displacement versus milage was linear then comparing them to a Camry the bigger cars should be in the 5-10mpg range( just an estimate not exact calculation).

When you figure the 2.0L displacement engine is running maybe 3000rpm at 70mph and the 5.0L displacement engine is running 1700rpm at 70mph. The 2.0L is moving 3000L of air per minute while the 5.0L is moving 4250L of air per minute at cruising speeds ( figured as displacement X rpm / 2). The larger engine is displacing 1.4 times as much air but is 2.5 times larger. Assuming equal fuel/air ratio is needed to run them both then the amount of fuel difference is the same as air difference.

I guess what I am getting at is that with more room to play with the minivan may be able to compensate using a larger engine/generator combo to keep the same milage and range as the smaller car. So the numbers Dodge is puting out may be correct. There are so many factors that figure into effeciency besides just Cd and frontal area. Torque, gearing, rolling resistance, ect all have to be factored in.

RE: The novelty electric car is doomed from the start
By Keeir on 9/24/2008 4:37:30 PM , Rating: 2
Current Mini-vans get 20-25 MPG combined. I just have difficulty conceptionalizing a system that nearly doubles thier fuel economy without reducing the required energy output. I mean, compare the Camry and the Camry Hybrid. Or the Volt and the Cruze. Differences exist of 10-20% or more in certain situations. Maybe the mini-van is going to harness lost heat energy?

Not sure, but I am sure that Chrysler can not do 25%+ better than GM and Toyota. That seems fantastic.

By Oregonian2 on 9/24/2008 5:41:14 PM , Rating: 2
fwiw - Note that Chrysler still gets technology (including hybrid technology) from Mercedes (Daimler). Possibly they got some "good stuff" from them. In any case, Chrysler does have a second generation prototype according to their website. Perhaps their marketing may have been helping their claims a bit, but even with "standard" deflation of marketing numbers "still ain't bad". I've an ancient 1996 Chrysler T&C and with the A/C running full blast I'll still get maybe 23~24 mpg on the highway.

RE: The novelty electric car is doomed from the start
By Keeir on 9/24/2008 6:05:21 PM , Rating: 2
I have a 2003 Chrysler T&C AWD which has averaged just about 19.5 MPG combined over its life. Removing the AWD and adding some lower resistance tires... maybe 23 combined?

If Mercedes has that technology... where are the Mercedes cars that have nearly doubled thier fuel efficieny? Not heard any announcements or etc...

Note: It would be great if the final results was 30 AER/30 MPG combined. However, given that the 2008 T&C is rated at 17/24 with a 3.3L V6 and 4 speed Automatic... I just have trouble believing the 45 MPG number by 2010. Even a Mazda5 (smaller) with 4 cyclinder and Manual gets only 22/28.

By Oregonian2 on 9/24/2008 8:46:40 PM , Rating: 2
Note that Toyota has a minivan (not sold in the US) that supposedly gets 35 mpg. It's a toyota style hybrid meaning not an "electric car" and not using lithiums (which are supposed to get the effective mileage higher than the Nimh ones they're using). This makes the Chrysler claimed numbers more believable in that they'll be lithium, a pure electric vehicle, and I understand front-wheel drive (less losses with drive train stuff at all four wheels).

By Oregonian2 on 9/24/2008 8:48:19 PM , Rating: 2
Make that "less losses without drive train stuff at all four wheels"

By Keeir on 9/25/2008 6:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
"Supposedly" gets 35 MPG.... is it a "full" sized mini-van, or a cross over (IE Subaru Forester type)? What testing methodology was used to get 35 MPG? Note, British MPG test for example give results 25-50% higher than US ones.

Even if it was a Full-sized Mini-van under US testing, I reference the Volt/Prius. Similar sized cars, One a Parrell (Toyota Style) Hybrid with 45 MPG combined using Nimh. One a serial hybrid (proposed Chrysler) with 45-50 MPG combined with Lithium. Seems to me that 35 MPG combined would be a reasonable outcome.

I guess I refuse to believe that using the existing ~.35 Cd body shape and same A combined with existing engine technology will result in a mini-van that nearly doubles fuel economy. Or the same 40 AER that the volt gets without either A.) increasing battery size and thus cost or B.) using a greater discharge which will reduce battery life

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