Perhaps in response to GM’s announcement of its production-ready Volt electric car last week, Chrysler has unveiled plans to use similar electric-drive technology in three of its vehicles. The company will select one of its electric-drive models to be produced for consumers in North American markets in 2010 and one for European markets after that.
Chrysler demonstrated three electric-drive prototypes—the Dodge EV, Jeep EV, and Chrysler EV—at its headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Tuesday. Additionally, the company said that approximately 100 Chrysler electric vehicles will be on the road as part of government, business, utility and company development fleets in 2009.
“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 of Chrysler LLC.
Chrysler’s electric-drive technology comprises three primary components. An electric motor drives the wheels. An advanced lithium-ion battery system powers the motor. And, a controller manages energy flow. The company is developing the system for front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and body-on-frame four-wheel drive vehicles.
“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% of Americans drive less than 40 miles per day,” said Frank Klegon, executive vice president of product development at Chrysler.
Drivers recharge the system by plugging the car into any standard outlet, much like the Chevrolet Volt. Also similarly, a small gasoline engine and integrated electric generator produce additional energy to power the drive system when necessary, making the vehicle’s range comparable to gasoline-powered automobiles.
The first prototype, the Dodge EV, is a two-passenger sports car with rear-wheel drive (Fig. 1). Its 200-kW electric motor that provides 268 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque for 0- to 60-mph acceleration in less than 5 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 13 seconds, and a top speed of 120 mph. Recharging takes 8 hours from a 110-V outlet and half that from 220 V.
Based on the Wrangler model, the Jeep EV uses a 200-kW electric motor that puts out 268 hp for 295 lb-ft of torque (Fig. 2). Using eight gallons of gasoline, it has a 400-mile range, including 40 miles of gas- and emission-free operation. The company is now investigating four-wheel drive, in-wheel electric motors for better off-road capabilities.
The Chrysler EV takes its cues from the Town & Country minivan, with seven-passenger capacity (Fig. 3). Its 195-kW electric motor provides 255 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, as well as 0- to 60-mph acceleration in 9 seconds. Like the Jeep EV, it offers 400 miles of travel and 40 miles of all-electric operation.
In addition, Chrysler has teamed with General Electric and the United States Department of Energy to develop a new, integrated energy-storage system to make electric vehicle battery packs smaller and significantly less expensive than current designs. Specifically, they will investigate 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.”