Chrysler, Ford and Other Automakers Unveil Plans for Electric Vehicles

Large automakers and small startup companies alike showcased electric vehicles at famous auto show in Detroit.

| Jan. 14, 2009

  • Dodge Circuit
    The Dodge Circuit EV can be driven for up to 200 miles between battery charges.
  • EV Concept
    Chrysler's EV Concept has an all-electric range of 40 miles and an extended range of about 400 miles.

  • Dodge Circuit
  • EV Concept

General Motors may be receiving the lion's share of attention for its Chevy Volt, but Chrysler, Ford and other automakers are also pushing forward in the development of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (also known as range-extended electric vehicles).

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Chrysler has unveiled the 200C EV Concept, a sports sedan with an all-electric range of 40 miles and an extended range of about 400 miles. Chrysler also added the Jeep Patriot EV — another range-extended electric vehicle — to its collection of electric vehicle concepts that it first unveiled last September. That collection includes electrified versions of the Jeep Wrangler and the Chrysler Town & Country minivan, as well as a Dodge-branded all-electric sports car that's based on the Lotus Europa S.

Chrysler still won't say which of the vehicles will be produced for North American markets in 2010, but the company has updated its Dodge EV with Dodge-specific front and rear ends and a Dodge interior, and it has renamed the vehicle as the Dodge Circuit EV, so maybe that's a clue.

If Chrysler does release an all-electric sports car in 2010, it will be in direct competition with two North American startup companies: Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive.

Tesla produces the Roadster, an all-electric two-seater with a body inspired by the Lotus Elise and built by Lotus Engineering. On Sunday, Tesla started taking orders for the new Roadster Sport, an enhanced-performance version of the Roadster that will sell for $128,500 when deliveries begin in June. Tesla has so far produced 150 Roadsters, which sell for $109,000, and the 1,100 people on the company's waiting list have the option of upgrading to the Roadster Sport.

Meanwhile, Fisker unveiled the production version of its 2010 Fisker Karma, which employs Quantum Technologies' electric drive to achieve an all-electric range of up to 50 miles. The range-extended four-seat electric vehicle employs a lithium-ion battery pack to power two 201-horsepower electric motors and starts at $87,900. Deliveries will start late this year. Fisker also unveiled the Karma S concept, which features a retractable hardtop.

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