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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: 110 vs 220
By GeorgeH on 9/24/2008 4:41:37 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, but what you're saying is that a 220v supply can provide twice the power of a 110v supply. That may be true if the wire gauge is the same, as more current leads to more heat and increased risk of fire, but is that really the reason behind the "twice as fast" claim? If it were, why not add a second (or third, or fourth) plug to the car for 110v supplies?

I know transformers don't add any power, which is why the claim that doubling the voltage halves the charge time still makes no sense to me. It's kind of like saying you can recharge a AA in Europe twice as fast as you can in the U.S., which is a little silly.

(As far as weight goes, even a 10,000W transformer is only going to weigh about 50-100 lbs. Not incredibly light, but not exactly monolithic either.)

RE: 110 vs 220
By Suntan on 9/24/2008 6:09:37 PM , Rating: 2
Think less about the purely technical aspect of it and more of the practical aspect of it.

Most 110 outlet you have available are going to be 15 Amps (20 Amps is common too, but not universal so you can only setup for the most common denominator.)

Even if you had "two" plugs on the car, you would still need to plug them into different circuits, not just different outlets. People would not want to have to plug two plugs into outlets on opposite sides of their garage.


RE: 110 vs 220
By Choppedliver on 9/24/2008 8:07:35 PM , Rating: 4
Basic electronics

A transformer that UPS the voltage, REDUCES CURRENT. Likewise if you lower voltage, you will INCREASE current.

Power = Voltage x Current. Simple

If you up the voltage, and reduce the current, as in a transformer, the POWER stays the same. Power is what you are after.

This IS NOT the case of a dedicated 220 Volt circuit compared to a dedicated 110v circuit.

If you have two circuits:

a) 110v x 10amps 1100 watts
b) 220v x 10amps 2200 watts

The 220v circuit has twice as much power capacity. Therefore you have the potential to charge the battery twice as fast, depending on the battery

RE: 110 vs 220
By GeorgeH on 9/24/2008 9:29:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, I know. My main concern was the apparently glib statement that you could cut the charge time from 8 to 4 hours by simply doubling the input voltage.

As a side note, if it were possible to use 2 (or even 3 or 4) 110v connections to increase the charge time to 4, 2.5, or even 2 hours, I'd be all over it. Finding seperate circuits would be a pain, but the charging time savings would be more than worth it. If I were charging at home, I could even imagine a "charge station" in my garage with a single heavy-duty cord that connected to the car.

RE: 110 vs 220
By Oregonian2 on 9/25/2008 2:37:26 PM , Rating: 2
The 240V option is basically that. Same as done for kitchen stoves and electric clothes dryers.

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