Chrysler's Electric Cars Get Closer to Production

Chrysler’s new line of electric cars is “closer to production than you think,” said Chrysler president Jim Press earlier today. He explained that Chrysler is currently demonstrating electric cars and plug-in hybrids to dealers to get their feedback.

When challenged as to whether a Chrysler plug-in hybrid could beat GM’s much-publicized Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid to market, Press deferred with a joke, saying, “GM’s been selling the Volt for about five years.” He added that Chrysler “didn’t have the money for PR stunts,” but was focused on getting its new products to market.

Chrysler is under pressure to deliver exciting and innovative new cars. On Wednesday, Chrysler said its sales in the United States fell by a third in August—nearly twice the industry average. Honda bypassed Chrysler to become the nation’s No. 4 seller of cars.

Chrysler’s hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles are coming out of the year-old ENVI program, which was organized to jump-start Chrysler’s move to develop its own ground-up hybrids. The company’s first hybrid products, the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen two-mode hybrids, use technology developed jointly by their former parent company Daimler, along with General Motors and BMW. Chrysler is the last of the six largest car companies to put a hybrid on the market.

According to Press, who spoke to the Western Automotive Journalists group in South San Francisco, Chrysler is moving to electric vehicles for two reasons:


    
  
  • Market forces. The company recognizes rising concerns over the environment, carbon reduction, and dependence on petroleum.
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  • Company expertise. “Our engineers know how to do it,” said Press.
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Chrysler is putting $3 billion a year into new products, according to Press, and as a private company has the ability to invest in new technologies like electric vehicles.

Chrysler Hybrid Timeline

Some of the fruits of those investments are starting to show up:

    
  
  • Chrysler recently introduced hybrid versions of the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen, offering about 30 percent better fuel economy than its non-hybrid version without sacrificing towing capability or interior space.
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  • Next year, the new Dodge Ram pickup will offer a diesel engine in its light-duty models for the first time, followed in 2010 by a hybrid model.
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  • A hybrid minivan that is due to come out of the ENVI program will follow “after that,” Press said.


  • Nathaniel King

    Why all the trucks? Who wants a truck? I want a car that gets 45 mpg+!

  • Bryce

    trucks is the only thing the 2 mode system fits into right now. GM is working on a smaller version right now to put into cars, but until then, only expect the system in larger applications. At this moment, the E-rev system being developed for the Volt is the most easily transferable system to small cars and, in all honesty would be a much better gas saver than any hybrid or diesel, so that sounds good to me. : )

    I thought that 5 year comment was funny. It was only a year ago actaully that it was announced, but it certainly has been hyped a lot, so I coudl understand their annoyance at something not even production that already has such a following. lol. Sucks for Chrysler I guess. People have been slobbering over the Volt and the Insight for the past year, maybe Chrysler needs to a little crazy with the advertising to prime the pump a little.

  • Mo Ron

    Yeah! Who would want a truck in this country?

  • Andrew C.

    when can we expect electric cars to hit the market at affordable prices?

  • Boom Boom

    Hype, Hype, Hype at this point. Give me something I can test drive, and then I’ll start paying attention.

  • steved28

    I don’t think it “sucks for Chrysler” at all Bryce. Here GM is bleeding money, and spending money they don’t have on “green” ads. And all the time getting no return on these ads (because they really don’t have anything to sell). Meanwhile, if Chrysler quietly introduces a PHEV around the same timeframe, are you saying you would not consider it because they didn’t run ads 3 years prior to it’s availability? Utter nonsense. I would much rather see all the ad money GM is spending going into actual R&D and production work.

    2 mode hybrids are not worth much if they can’t fit into a small footprint. Did you see the Escalade hybrid numbers (or should I say number) for August? They sold one. Yup, I said one. They don’t get it. If I can afford $60K for an SUV, I can afford the gas for it too, I don’t need a hybrid.

  • Bryce

    I would of course consider all of the hybrid/electric vehicles on the market and I would probably know about all of the ones on the market and the ones coming to market soon. However, I am not your average consumer who will get their buying points from a 30 second commercial that they saw “that one time.” What GM has done is create a following already much as people follow Camaros and Mustangs waiting for them years ahead of time after hearing the first inkling of them. That way, on day one, it is a solid seller. If advertising didn’t work, no one would do it. Maybe it doesn’t make a difference to us, people who watch the industry fairly closely, because we know everything about these cars from MSRP to fuel economy and horse power. Your average consumer might know one of those…..maybe. : )

    Maybe though, the industry is fortunate in that GM is essentially priming the plug-in pump you could say in preparing consumers for this new way of fueling ones car. On day one, individuals hopefully will pretty used to seeing or hearing of cars being plugged in that it is not such of a “burden” in their minds. In that GM is helping all the automakers in their own bids in electric vehicles. Early movers have the advantage early large amounts of market share and a step ahead on tech, but the followers can learn from the mistakes of the early movers and easily adapt, and sometimes supersede technology developed by the early movers. This market, I have seen, is terribly entertaining to watch and I am looking forward to the not too far off day of gas free driving for you and me. : )

  • Dom

    They would have a win with a hybrid minivan. People have been clamoring for Toyota to release that for a few years. I’d be funny if Chrysler beats them to it…

  • chklingon

    More trucks….. sheese, they still don’t get it.

    However, I heard Minivan. I have had to abandon my beloved Dodge mini’s due to an upscale in engine size. (What a loser at this point). We bought a Prius this year. I want my smaller mini back, but want it to be a hybrid, or better yet, electric.

    We will see if they follow through.

  • Anon

    Forget trucks…Aptera is a new company in california that is developing an all electric and PHEV for 2009 and 2010. the big car companies had their chance, they’re taking way too long to develop anything with MPG’s greater than 30…ugh

    check out aptera.com, they look like the future.

  • Jeff

    What I do not get is that in most every case these new cars are shown as very cool future setting designs and then when they hit the steet they look like every other eurostyled or Detroit mill design. The photo of the ecoVoyager makes me want one right now. But I am sure that when/if it every goes to production it will look like a POS US car.

  • 33Nick

    Ditto. Enough with SUVs and pickup trucks. I don’t want to drive around town and have the capacity to haul my entire fridge and living room. Give me something fun again, smaller, handles great and makes me feel I am driving a car. I miss those days.

  • Anonymous

    Earth to Chrysler, put an electric motor in the Smart Car and sell it. It already exists, it’s cheap, it does not need a huge drivetrain. If there is no all electric Smart for sale in the US within one year, I will hold a life-long grudge and I will never buy a Chrysler car again.

  • Samie

    Don’t agree with those who complain about trucks and SUV’s having two-mode hybrid systems. The Ford Escape is a perfect example of a good hybrid system that allows the choice of a SUV w/ good gas mileage. As for small diesel trucks I say thats great, hopefully hybrid technology will
    prevail in most trucks that haul equipment in the next few years. People forget that contractors, landscapers, farmers, and others are hurting as much or more when gas prices are high.

    As for Bryce’s comment, you made me wonder about the hybrid market in the next few years. Not sure if Toyota one of those ‘early movers’ got the next generation Prius right. Little too conservative on the engineering aspects if you ask me. But we will see if Toyota can hold on as #1. Not sure that they can, if the others are offering different styles, cheaper prices and matching or exceed MPGs. Also how will the Volt change this market? Should be fun to see how all this plays out.

    Sorry to say, I don’t know what Chrysler’s status will be in the auto world next few years, maybe Bryce is right shake it up and stir some new excitement into their products. Maybe they will come out with this Volt like car that runs longer on a battery or is offered at a lower price, probably not but we will see.

  • thomatt12

    It is good to think that Chrysler is also thinking of ways to save gas. Their new lineup of hybrid cars will surely be exciting.

  • Cellphone

    Maybe though, the industry is fortunate in that GM is essentially priming the plug-in pump you could say in preparing consumers for this new way of fueling ones car. On day one, individuals hopefully will pretty used to seeing or hearing of cars being plugged in that it is not such of a “burden” in their minds. In that GM is helping all the automakers in their own bids in electric vehicles.http://www.cellphone-china.com Early movers have the advantage early large amounts of market share and a step ahead on tech, but the followers can learn from the mistakes of the early movers and easily adapt, and sometimes supersede technology developed by the early movers. This market, I have seen, is terribly entertaining to watch and I am looking forward to the not too far off day of

  • Bryce

    Entertaining is definetly the word for this hybrid market. It is so interesting to watch the dynamics and the struggles. I wish I had some popcorn.

  • Juan Carlos Galarza

    I have a Willys Jeep, ¿can I to use or adapt a electric propeller?.