Chrysler's Hybrid ENVI

September 14, 2007: Source – Edmunds Inside Line

Dodge Durango, Chrysler's first hybrid

Now owned by a private-equity firm that was well-paid to adopt it away from Daimler, Chrysler is trying to quash its reputation for dismal fuel economy. Just this month, it has lured hybrid advocate Jim Press away from Toyota and created a new division, ENVI, to develop hybrid and electric vehicles.

As reported by Edmunds Inside Line:

Chrysler says the ENVI initiative will research and build new products from the ground up that will be sold under the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep nameplates — rather than retrofit existing models as hybrids. A Chrysler spokesman said speed to market will be a priority.

Chrysler chief Thomas LaSorda called ENVI “a start-up with an entrepreneurial environment” rather than a pure research organization, and said the unit will be expected to “develop appropriate solutions quickly.”

Of the six top-selling automakers, Chrysler’s 2007 lineup has the worst average fuel economy. Its only hybrid offering in the works is the chunky 2009 Dodge Durango/Chrysler Aspen SUV. The two-mode hybrid system (developed in cooperation with GM and BMW and now available in the Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon) combines cylinder deactivation with electric motors for better mileage in both city and highway driving.

Chrysler has a long way to go. But moves under new management like hiring Press and opening Envi show that its first steps put it on a path that may lead to more choices for hybrid consumers. It wouldn’t be the first time a carmaker has turned its reputation around.


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  • Randal

    Well, good luck to Chrysler and the equity firm, but the last time someone came to Chrysler’s rescue, we got the K-Car.

  • Jeff

    ……and the K-Car saved the company. It looks like our society may be reaching critical mass when a company like Chrysler sees going green as a good business strategy. Press is no idiot. He will be stepping into a complete mess. No matter what he does it will be looked on as a wonderful thing. I own a Prius but cannot wait for a US manufacturer to finally start selling a similar or better product. Good luck to Chrysler but I will keep buying foreign cars until they finally pony up, which might be sooner than later. Lithium cell technology is the key to all of this. Bush is not a complete idiot he listened to someone with a brain when he decided to commit significant federal dollars to research in that area. Though I have no idea if he ever followed through on the funding.

  • Ben

    Bush should realize the enthanol track is bound to be a bust and SHOULD devote more research dollars to battery technology and electric powered transportation. Real hybrids work using true 100% battery power at a given time. Every American system is still considered a weak hybrid system.

  • Bert

    check out the multimedia section.. good to see these companies forging ahead…

  • Brad

    It’s remarkable to see people griping and complaining about things . . . so 40 years ago, Detroit came out with smaller more fuel effient vehicles with V6 engines, small light V8’s and other innovations (Pontiac Tempest/Buick Special/etc…), Ford Falcon, etc… and the buying public did what? So fuel efficient four cylinder cars were brought out, and with advanced (for the time especially) technology like turbos, smaller engines . . . and where did people go? If you look back in time, manufacturers only cater to what people are buying.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    If “manufacturers only cater to what people are buying”, then why did they take my EV1 away from me and crush it? They never even gave me a chance to buy it and only a few people in only 2 states were even given the chance to lease it. Nearly everyone who had them loved them.

  • Louise

    I don’t believe “manufacturers only cater to what people are buying.” Quite the opposite! If so, we would have had electric vehicles like the EV1 long ago.

  • Doug Korthof

    Instead of building an existing EV, like the Toyota RAV4-EV, still running and more left on the road than ALL fuel cell cars, ENVI is doing dual-mode B.S., still a gas car.

  • David M

    Guys..guys … follow the money and you will see why companies do what the do. Do you really think we are feeding the big 3…The oil companies need the big 3 to make a complete revolution of cash flow to their pockets
    We bailed Chrysler by buy The K CAR forced by our government. Which it is held for ransom by companies that threat to unemploy workers if they do what they want like buy the “junk”.
    notice all fear about the economy when there is a election comes arround.The People will always bail out the Big 3.not because we want to but because we have no choice. to have a 4 car maker builder in an other part of the country

  • Wolfy

    What a joke! These behemoths get about one to two miles a gallon better than their non-hybrid look-alikes. Guess you can slap the title “hybrid” or “green” on anything and some fool will but it. Even at $5 to 10 K more! These are meant for the power elite to brag about owning a “hybrid” vehicle, nothing more.