Chrysler, Ford and Other Automakers Unveil Plans for Electric Vehicles

1 / 2
The Dodge Circuit EV can be driven for up to 200 miles between battery charges.
2 / 2
Chrysler's EV Concept has an all-electric range of 40 miles and an extended range of about 400 miles.

<p>General Motors may be receiving the lion’s share of attention for its <a title=”Chevy Volt” href=”” target=”_self”>Chevy Volt</a>, 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).</p>
<p>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 <a title=”first unveiled” href=”″ target=”_blank”>first unveiled</a> 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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>While small startups are taking the lead in electric vehicles in North America, Ford announced that it will introduce an all-electric commercial van in 2010, an all-electric small car in 2011 and a plug-in hybrid by 2012.</p>
<p>By then, it might be competing with China’s BYD Auto, which recently began selling a range-extended electric vehicle in China called the F3DM. The F3DM, a mid-size sedan, has an all-electric range of 62 miles and a top speed of 93 miles per hour. BYD is exhibiting its vehicles in Detroit for the second year in a row, and along with the F3DM, the company is also exhibiting an all-electric crossover vehicle with a range of 249 miles, a larger version of the F3DM, a version with a continuously variable transmission, and a compact vehicle. With financial backing from Warren Buffet, BYD plans to introduce its cars in Europe and Israel in 2010, and in North America sometime later.</p>
<p>A nearer-term competitor in the North American market is Toyota, which plans to deliver 500 Prius plug-in hybrids to global fleets later this year, including 150 in the United States. The lithium-ion batteries for the vehicles will be built at Panasonic EV Energy, a joint venture of Toyota and the Matsushita Group. In Detroit, Toyota is displaying a small electric-only concept vehicle for urban commuters, the FT-EV. Although the company plans to launch such a vehicle by 2012, its primary emphasis is still on hybrid vehicles.</p>
<p>Other overseas participants in the Detroit Auto Show include Mercedes-Benz, which is exhibiting three versions of a small concept car: an all-electric version, a range-extended version and a fuel cell version. Mercedes-Benz isn’t announcing any commercialization plans, but its sister company, Smart, is planning to launch an electric-drive version of the Smart Fortwo by the end of the year. The vehicle is on display in Detroit, but Smart hasn’t decided whether to market the lithium-ion-powered vehicle in the United States. Even Johnson Controls is exhibiting a plug-in hybrid concept called the re3, which embodies the technologies the company can offer to automakers. Johnson Controls is producing lithium-ion hybrid vehicle batteries in France under a joint venture with Saft.</p>
<p>The North American International Auto Show opens to the public on Saturday and continues through Jan. 25. See the <a title=”NAIAS website” href=”” target=”_blank”>NAIAS website</a> for more information.</p>
<hr />
<h5>Reprinted from <a title=”EERE Network News” href=”” target=”_blank”>EERE Network News</a>, a free newsletter of the U.S. Department of Energy.</h5>

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368