Chrysler, the smallest of Detroit’s Big Three automakers, surprised the industry this week by revealing three new electric vehicles, the first of which it plans to begin shipping to dealers in late 2010. In unveiling a minivan, a Jeep Wrangler and a sports car, Chrysler’s executives spelled out plans for a future in which most, if not all, automobiles would use electric motors for propulsion — essentially sounding the death knell for the internal-combustion engine [Los Angeles Times].
The car company has struggled financially over the past decade, so the ambitious plan surprised analysts, many of whom thought Chrysler lacked the size and financial resources to develop an electric car on its own [The New York Times]. By announcing that its first electric models will hit showrooms in 2010, Chrysler puts itself in direct competition with General Motors, which has a similar timeline for its electric car, the Chevy Volt, which was unveiled last week. Nissan is also working on several electric cars of its own.
The new Jeep and minivan that Chrysler showed off use a similar technology to that employed in the Chevy Volt: Lithium-ion batteries will power the car for the first 40 miles and a small, one-liter, internal combustion engine will charge the battery for longer rides. A consumer will be able to charge the batteries in eight hours from a U.S. 110-volt outlet or four hours from a 220-volt outlet. “The range is about 400 miles on eight or nine gallons of gas,” [said] Chrysler Vice Chairman Tom LaSorda [CNET].
Also on display was an all-electric Dodge sports car called the EV. It has only a lithium-ion battery with a range of about 150 miles before it must be recharged externally [USA Today], but the sporty vehicle will reportedly be able to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under five seconds.
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