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Chrysler plans electric car for 2010

Rafay Ansar

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Chrysler is planning to bring an electric car to the market in 2010--placing it in a dead heat with the highly anticipated Chevrolet Volt--and is working on a lineup of three more electric cars it expects to build over the next couple of years.

Chrysler executives revealed their plans Tuesday at the company’s headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. The program is called ENVI, shorthand for “environmental,” and it includes an all-electric performance car, electric versions of the Jeep Wrangler and Chrysler Town & Country and a “Peapod” vehicle based on the GEM car.

One of the cars--Chrysler hasn’t said which--is to come to North America in 2010, followed by a European launch after 2010.

Here’s how it breaks down:

The rear-drive performance car is called the Dodge EV, and it looks a bit like an electric Viper. It can do 0 to 60 mph in less than five seconds and the quarter-mile in 13 seconds, while releasing no emissions. It has room for two passengers.

From an enthusiast’s perspective, the specs are fairly impressive: 268 hp and an eye-popping 480 lb-ft of torque from the electric motor. Torque is present instantly, Chrysler says, which makes for potent acceleration. Top speed is better than 120 mph.

The car also has many of Dodge’s signature styling cues, including the headlights and door panels. It has a range of 150 to 200 miles and takes eight hours to recharge on a 110-volt outlet, or four hours on a 220-volt outlet.

The powertrain works by using an electric motor to drive the wheels, a lithium-ion battery to power the electric motor and a controller to manage the energy flow.

At first glance, this looks a lot like the idea that powers the Lotus Europa, and Chrysler and Lotus are in discussions to make an electric car, according to Automotive News.

In addition to performance, Chrysler also is eying practicality. Two standbys of the automaker’s lineup, the Jeep Wrangler and the Chrysler Town & Country, would also get extended-range electric versions. They would have a range of 40 miles on electricity--just as the Chevy Volt--before a small gasoline engine that powers an electric generator kicks in to produce electricity and extend the range to about 400 miles. The gasoline tank would have room for about eight gallons.

The Jeep would have ratings of 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, and Town & Country’s specs would be 255 hp and 258 lb-ft.

Lastly, Chrysler revealed plans for the Peapod, the next-generation car for its long-running GEM fleet, which will launch in 2009. Additionally, GEM is planning a new light-duty battery-electric truck and larger “city” car for its lineup within the next year.

Meanwhile, GEM, which previously stood for Global Electric Motorcars, is changing its name to GreenEcoMobility.
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