Chrysler has dropped a bombshell today, announcing they should have an electric or an Extended Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) in production by 2010. (See the report from CNBC.) Chrysler set up their ENVI (short for environment) engineering department and has been secretly developing their plug-in hybrids (excuse me, E-REV) vehicles for some time.
BTW, that's the same time line as the Chevy Volt we've been hearing so much about.
Chrysler introduced the Dodge EV, an all electric two-seater sports car that can go 0-60 mph in less than five seconds, with quarter-mile times of 13 second. It only has a range of 150-200 miles.
They also introduced two E-REV, the Jeep Wrangler and a Town and Country minivan. Both can go 40 miles (or so) on all electric power. Both are labled with the EV label, but have a small gas motor which is used to recharge the battery pack. That helps extend their range to 400 miles. It also means you won't end up running out of electricity somewhere, since you can always refill the gas tank.
All three cars are meant to be plugged in (4 hours to charge on a 220, 8 hours on a 110) to be recharged (see more about their specs at the bottom of the press release below). They have lithium-ion battery packs (Li-Ion) with over 20 kWh. For comparison, the current version of the Prius has a little over 1 kWh on its battery pack, while the Volt is supposed to have 16 kWh.
This is a big deal because GM has been working on and talking about their Chevy Volt for over a year. GM has brought us along at each point in the production of their E-REV sedan and has really widened eyes with the potential behind these vehicles. A cross between an electric and a gas car that truly gets the best of both worlds. With a 40 mile electric range, most traveling could eliminate the use of gasoline. But, if you needed to go farther, you still can. You don't have to worry if you go on a long trip whether the hotel you're staying at will let you plug in overnight. You can just refuel using gas and go.
At the same time, many people may not be able to plug in their vehicles at all (think apartment dwellers, people who park in garages, etc...). So, it may never be possible to switch over everyone to an all electric, or even a partial electric, transportation system.
The strange part about this announcement (other than why didn't they bring these cars to an auto show, why do it through a news report?) is this. All three vehicles have been pronounced able to go into production. But they haven't decided which of them will. In fact, all we know is one of the three will supposedly be in production by 2010. Which one?
Also, although the Volt is going to be a sedan, these three vehicles are in three different categories (sports, Jeep, and minivan). So, are any of these really a threat to steal the show from GM? I doubt it. Although, if they choose the minivan, it may be the first hybrid minivan to hit production scene, making it a unique choice. That may capture the attention of buyers.
But then, it also may come down to price. Unless Chrysler gives us a real indicator of how much they are going to cost (and you can see how well they avoid the question in their announcement with CNBC), it's really hard to guage how well their new EV line-up will play.
As an aside, Chrysler is also bringing an all electric Peapod to production with GEM. This is a small car (golfcart?) for gated communities and such.
Press Release Follows:
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Actions speak louder than words. -- One targeted to be produced in 2010 for consumers in North American markets, and European markets after 2010 -- Chrysler LLC to have approximately one hundred electric vehicles on the road in government, business, utility and development fleets in 2009 -- Chrysler electric-drive technology to be applied to front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive, and body-on-frame four-wheel-drive platforms -- Dodge EV: All-electric Performance Sports Car -- Jeep(R) EV: Wrangler Range-extended Electric Vehicle to allow customers to roam the planet and take care of it at the same time -- Chrysler EV: Town & Country Range-extended Electric Vehicle -- Chrysler and General Electric pursue joint project with U.S. Department of Energy Chrysler LLC announced today that the Company and its ENVI organization have new production-intent, advanced electric-drive technology packaged in three different vehicles -- one for each of its brands, Chrysler, Jeep(R) and Dodge. Chrysler will select one electric-drive model to be produced in 2010 for consumers in North American markets, and European markets after 2010. Additionally, approximately one hundred Chrysler electric vehicles will be on the road in government, business, utility and Chrysler development fleets in 2009. The Company said that it is well into the development of advanced, production-intent electric vehicles, and that it will apply electric-drive technology to its front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive and body-on-frame four-wheel-drive platforms in the next several years. At its World Headquarters here today, Chrysler revealed its electric-drive prototypes -- Dodge EV, Jeep EV and Chrysler EV -- and demonstrated the driving performance and capability of each. "We have a social responsibility to our consumers to deliver environmentally friendly, fuel efficient, advanced electric vehicles, and our intention is to meet that responsibility quickly and more broadly than any other automobile manufacturer," said Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO -- Chrysler LLC. "The introduction of the Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge electric vehicles provides a glimpse of the very near future, and demonstrates that we are serious and well along in the development of bringing electric vehicles to market." ENVI Organization The development of Chrysler's Electric Vehicles and Range-extended Electric Vehicles is led by ENVI -- representing the first four letters of "environmental" -- the Company's in-house organization that was formed to focus on electric-drive production vehicles and related advanced technologies. The development of electric-drive systems for future Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles is maturing quickly. "ENVI was created just over one year ago with the strategic intent to develop electric-drive vehicles quickly for Chrysler, and it is surpassing expectations," said Tom LaSorda -- Vice Chairman and President. "With ENVI, Chrysler is developing technology to bring Electric Vehicles and extremely fuel-efficient Range-extended Electric Vehicles to market." Electric Vehicle Technology Chrysler's Electric Vehicles utilize just three primary components. These include an electric motor to drive the wheels, an advanced lithium-ion battery system to power the electric-drive motor, and a controller that manages energy flow. The electric-drive system is being developed for front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive, and body-on-frame four-wheel-drive vehicle applications. "This technology provides customers with a vehicle that has zero tailpipe emissions and a 150 to 200 mile driving range -- far exceeding most Americans' daily commutes, as nearly 80 percent of Americans drive less than 40 miles per day, or 14,000 miles per year," said Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President -- Product Development. "Electric Vehicles provide the opportunity to fulfill social responsibility, reduce dependency on foreign oil, and eliminate monthly gasoline bills, while delivering performance and utility that our customers desire." Range-extended Electric Vehicle Technology The Range-extended Electric Vehicle combines the electric-drive components of the Electric Vehicle with a small gasoline engine and integrated electric generator to produce additional energy to power the electric-drive system when needed. This provides the positive attributes of an Electric Vehicle with the driving range equivalent to today's gasoline-powered vehicles -- with no compromises in performance. Range-extended Electric Vehicles offer environmental responsibility without giving up driving range, comfort or utility. Dodge EV The Dodge EV development Electric Vehicle is a two-passenger rear-wheel-drive sports car that marries high performance with zero tailpipe emissions. "The Dodge EV sets a new standard for what can be expected in electric-drive vehicles," said Lou Rhodes, Vice President -- Advance Vehicle Engineering, and President -- ENVI. "The electric-vehicle technology enables a fun-to-drive performance sports car and helps redefine the vision of an environmentally responsible vehicle for the Dodge brand." The electric-drive system consists of three primary components: a 200 kW (268 horsepower) electric motor, an advanced lithium-ion battery and an integrated power controller. The 200 kW electric-drive motor generates 650 N*m (480 lb.-ft.) of torque. The instant high torque of the electric-drive motor delivers outstanding performance, accelerating the Dodge EV to 60 mph in less than five seconds, with quarter-mile times of 13 seconds. The Dodge EV has a top speed of more than 120 mph. Working with the latest advanced lithium-ion battery technology, the Dodge EV has a continuous driving range of 150 to 200 miles, based on advancement of new battery technology -- more than triple the average daily commute of most consumers. Recharging the vehicle is a simple one-step process: plugging into a standard 110-volt household outlet for eight hours. The recharge time can be cut in half to four hours by using a typical 220-volt household appliance power outlet. The Dodge EV offers driving enthusiasts a performance sports car that can be driven to work every day -- without consuming gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions. Jeep EV The Jeep EV development vehicle is a Range-extended Electric Vehicle that provides a glimpse into the future of a "Go Anywhere, Do Anything" vehicle with renowned Jeep Wrangler capability. The Jeep EV combines Wrangler's unmatched off-road capability with the ultimate "Tread Lightly" mindset by providing nature ambassadors with the ability to roam the planet and take care of it at the same time. The Jeep EV Range-extended Electric Vehicle uses an electric motor, an advanced lithium-ion battery system, and a small gasoline engine with an integrated electric generator to produce additional energy to power the electric-drive system when needed. The 200 kW (268 horsepower) electric motor generates 400 N*m (295 lb.-ft.) of torque. With approximately eight gallons of gasoline, the Jeep EV has a range of 400 miles, including 40 miles of zero fuel-consumption, zero-emissions, all-electric operation. "We are also exploring four-wheel-drive, in-wheel electric motors to demonstrate the full reach of ENVI's advanced electric-drive technologies," said Rhodes. The instant high torque of the electric-drive motor and the ability to precisely control each wheel independently results in off-road capability ideally suited for the Jeep brand, without compromising on-road driving capability. Chrysler EV The Chrysler EV development vehicle is a Range-extended Electric Vehicle that demonstrates another possible application of ENVI electric-drive technology in the segment-leading Chrysler Town & Country minivan. "With the Chrysler EV, we are able to blend seven-passenger capability and the luxury of the Chrysler Town & Country minivan with electric-drive technology, demonstrating family practicality with zero compromise," said Rhodes. "ENVI's electric-drive development vehicles showcase our accelerated application of electric-drive systems into a wide range of vehicles in Chrysler's future product portfolio." The Chrysler EV combines the electric-drive components of an Electric Vehicle with an integrated small-displacement engine and generator to produce additional electricity to power the electric-drive system when needed. This provides all of the positive attributes of an Electric Vehicle and extends the driving range to be equivalent to today's gasoline-powered vehicles -- without compromises. The Chrysler EV uses a 190 kW (255 horsepower) motor, producing 350 N*m (258 lb.-ft.) of torque, providing 0 to 60 mph acceleration in approximately nine seconds. The Chrysler EV Range-extended Electric Vehicle can drive 40 miles on all-electric power, and boasts a range of 400 miles on approximately eight gallons of gasoline. This makes the Chrysler EV the perfect fuel-efficient family vehicle. The knowledge and experience gained from the Chrysler EV will be applied to other front-wheel-drive applications in Chrysler's portfolio. Chrysler LLC Electric-vehicle Consumer Web Site Chrysler LLC has launched a web site -- http://www.Chryslergoeselectric.com -- to allow consumers to view the latest updates on Electric Vehicles and Range-extended Electric Vehicles from the Company. Content will include videos, photography and news, and visitors can sign up for updates. In addition, the site features a blog where consumers can interact directly with the Company. Department of Energy Cooperative Agreement Chrysler and General Electric are jointly pursuing a project with the United States Department of Energy to explore advanced energy-storage technology. "Chrysler's partnership with General Electric combines the electric-drive technology demonstrated in the Chrysler Electric Vehicles, with GE's research and development of advanced energy storage systems," said Klegon. "Our collective goal working with the DOE is to develop a new, integrated energy-storage system to make electric vehicle battery packs smaller and significantly less expensive than current designs." Chrysler and GE will develop and evaluate dual-battery solutions based on GE's unique technology. "One of the challenges with electric vehicles is finding a battery with the correct balance between power -- for example, during vehicle acceleration -- and energy for long driving range," said Klegon. "We believe that combining two unique battery chemistries -- one biased toward power and the other toward energy -- into a single battery pack is very promising for a future Chrysler Electric Vehicle." DODGE EV PRELIMINARY SPECIFICATIONS Vehicle Type Body style: Two-passenger, performance sports car Drivetrain: Electric propulsion, rear-wheel drive Category: Electric Vehicle Electric-drive System Power: 200 kW (268 hp) Torque: 650 N*m (480 lb.-ft.) Energy Recovery: Regenerative braking Battery System Type: Lithium-ion Energy: 26 kWh Peak power: 200 kW Voltage: 380 to 420 Charging: Onboard charger - dual voltage 110/120-volt outlet (15A) - standard household power outlet 220/240-volt outlet: (30A) - household appliance power outlet Performance 0-60 mph: Less than 5.0 seconds 1/4-mile Acceleration: 13.0 seconds Top speed: More than 120 mph Range (city): 150 to 200 miles JEEP EV PRELIMINARY SPECIFICATIONS Vehicle Type Body style: Five-passenger SUV Drivetrain: Electric propulsion, two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive Category: Range-extended Electric Vehicle Electric-drive System Power: 200 kW (268 hp) Torque: 400 N*m (295 lb.-ft.) Energy Recovery: Regenerative braking Battery System Type: Lithium-ion Energy: 27 kWh Peak power: 200 kW Voltage: 370 to 410 Charging: Onboard charger - dual voltage 110/120-volt outlet (15A) - standard household power outlet 220/240-volt outlet: (30A) - household appliance power outlet Performance 0-60 mph: 9.0 seconds 1/4-mile Acceleration: 16.5 seconds Top speed: More than 90 mph Range (city): 400 miles, with more than 40 miles all-electric CHRYSLER EV PRELIMINARY SPECIFICATIONS Vehicle Type Body style: Seven-passenger minivan Drivetrain: Electric propulsion, front-wheel drive Category: Range-extended Electric Vehicle Electric-drive System Power: 190 kW (255 hp) Torque: 350 N*m (258 lb.-ft.) Energy Recovery: Regenerative braking Battery System Type: Lithium-ion Energy: 22 kWh Peak power: 200 kW Voltage: 370 to 410 Charging: Onboard charger - dual voltage 110/120-volt outlet (15A) - standard household power outlet 220/240-volt outlet: (30A) - household appliance power outlet Performance 0-60 mph: 8.7 seconds 1/4-mile Acceleration: 16.2 seconds Top speed: More than 100 mph Range (city): 400 miles, with more than 40 miles all-electric