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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: The novelty electric car is doomed from the start
By Keeir on 9/24/2008 4:43:41 PM , Rating: 2
Last food for thought. Average US household uses 11,040 kWh/year (Source: Energy Information Administration – Table 5: US Average Monthly Bill by Sector, Census Division, and State 2006)
To charge that car 1 time takes more energy than the average household uses in a year. Scary thought.

Well, assuming a 90% charging and energy retention rating

A chevy volt will travel 40 AER miles on 8kWh of stored energy.

Therefore, the average electrical usage into miles should look something like-

11040 kWh * 0.9 * 40m/8kWh= 50,000 miles (49,680).

I might be able to live with a pure electic car that gave me a 50,000 mile buffer...

By tastyratz on 9/24/2008 5:01:59 PM , Rating: 2
Ahh good point, touche. I made a mistake with my census example I am glad you pointed it out. I was for some reason thinking the household uses 11,040 wh/y instead of kwh/y.

90% rate seems a bit optimistic though, doesn't it? I would assume a drastic decline in efficiency as well if we were to charge a battery in a far smaller amount of time (consumer convenience factor)

By Keeir on 9/24/2008 5:55:45 PM , Rating: 2

Real Li-Ion packs for cars are typically able to acchieve 110V to 220V efficiencys of 95%+. I think even higher voltages may lead to even high efficieny. The real issue with large capacity batteries is retention as most batteries will lose energy over time. In such situation as a 50,000 mile battery pack, energy loses would be very significant as it would take years to use all the energy.

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