2011 Chrysler EV Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2010
FAST FACTS
  • New range-extended electric vehicle
  • Based on Chrysler Town & Country minivan
  • Powered at all times by electricity
  • All-electric range of 40 miles
  • Small gasoline engine extends range to 400 miles
  • Half the emissions of a standard gas-powered car
  • On sale as early as late 2010

Introduction

Somewhere between the electric car and the hybrid exists the range-extended electric car. This type of vehicle always runs on electric power, though it has a gasoline engine to recharge the battery. Chevrolet announced the first range-extended electric vehicle, the , at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Now, Chrysler LLC has announced plans to build two range-extended electric vehicles as early as 2010.

The Chrysler will be a version of the Town & Country minivan, but it will be called the Chrysler EV. Chrysler says the EV will be able to drive on an electric charge for 40 miles. After that, a small gasoline engine will charge the battery and extend the driving range to 400 miles.

The Chrysler EV is being developed by Chrysler LLC's in-house organization, ENVI. ENVI, which takes its name from the first four letters in "environmental," has been tasked with looking at the future of the automobile without the internal combustion engine. Through ENVI, Chrysler and General Electric are working with the Department of Energy to explore advanced energy storage (battery) technologies. Advances here would make the EV's battery smaller and less expensive.

Chrysler LLC has also announced based on the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, as well as an . Chrysler LLC says one of the three will be available by the end of 2010. While the Chrysler EV probably won't be available to the public until the 2011 model year, the company says that some vehicles will show up in government, business, utility and development fleets as early as 2009.

Model Lineup

The 2009 Chrysler Town & Country is available in LX, Touring and Limited trim levels, but we expect the 2011 Chrysler EV to be equipped like the top-line Limited. That means standard equipment will include such amenities as leather upholstery; heated first- and second-row seats; power adjustable pedals; UConnect Tunes hard-drive radio; Sirius satellite radio; Infinity sound system; and SmartBeam HID headlights.

Hardware

The Chrysler EV will have a 190-kW (255 hp) electric motor that will generate the equivalent of 258 lb.-ft. of torque. An advanced 22-kWh lithium-ion battery will provide the power to the motor and an integrated power controller will manage energy flow. The EV will be able to run 40 miles on a full charge, and Chrysler says that 80 percent of Americans' commutes are less than 40 miles. After the initial 40 miles, the EV will use a 1.0-liter 3- or 4-cylinder engine and an 8-gallon gas tank to charge the battery and extend the range to 400 miles. Chrysler says the EV will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 16.2 seconds. It will also be capable of a top speed of more than 100 mph. According to Chrysler, the EV will produce no emissions in the first 40 miles and only half the emissions of a comparable vehicle thereafter.

Safety

The Chrysler EV will get the same basic safety equipment as the Chrysler Town & Country. Selected features will include head-protecting 3-row side curtain air bags; brake assist; and electronic stability control. Because the Chrysler EV is based on the Town & Country's Limited trim level, we expect a rear-view camera and rear park assist will also be standard. Also likely are integrated second-row child booster seats and Chrysler's new Rear Cross Path and blind-spot-monitoring systems.

Blind-spot monitoring uses radar sensors to detect vehicles in the van's blind spots and warns the driver with lights in the side mirrors or a driver-selectable chime. Rear Cross Path is activated when the van is in reverse. It uses radar sensors to detect vehicles crossing behind the Town & Country and warns the driver with lights in the side mirrors and an audible chime.

Technology

Regenerative braking will help recharge the Chrysler EV's battery while the van is being driven. Owners will be able to fully recharge the battery in eight hours by plugging into a standard 110-volt power outlet or in four hours using a 220-volt household appliance power outlet. Chrysler says the current average cost of electricity is the equivalent of about 75 cents per gallon.
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