Chrysler charges into electric car race latimes com

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Chevrolet Electric Cars

Chrysler charges into car race

The third-largest U.S. unveils three battery-powered the first of which it would by late 2010.

September 24,


a surprise shot across the of industry rivals, Chrysler three functioning battery-powered Tuesday and thrust itself to the of the race to build mass-market cars.

In unveiling a minivan, a Wrangler and a sports car, executives spelled out plans for a in which most, if not all, would use electric motors for — essentially sounding the knell for the internal-combustion engine.

declined to say how much the vehicles cost and would not discuss would be released first. But the U.S. automaker said it would put hundreds of electric in test fleets next and would bring one of the models to by late 2010, with electric cars to follow thereafter.

We’re not talking about a electric car, said Nardelli, chief executive of We’re talking about a line of cars that. us to be energy-independent going forward.

such news came Chrysler, the industry’s downtrodden — and the carmaker with the reliance on large pickup and SUVs — was almost The smallest of the Big Three has seen its slip 24% so far this year, has forced to end its once-lucrative leasing and has all but ceded production of small to other automakers.

I didn’t they were a player, Jim Hossack, vice president at consultancy AutoPacific. I’m This suggests a lot of bravado.

other automakers, from Motor Corp. to Renault, made increasingly loud in recent months about electric and plug-in hybrid Chrysler has been almost doing little more presenting a trio of electric cars in January.

As a result, Tuesday’s unveiling much of the industry. Just a ago, General Motors unveiled its production prototype of the Chevy Volt. But unlike offerings, the Volt was not operational.

observers remarked on the timing of announcement. In recent weeks, GM and Ford Motor Co. have arguing that Congress fund $25 billion worth of guarantees written into year’s energy act. loans were designed to automakers and suppliers pay for the costs of factories to build vehicles would comply with stricter federal fuel standards.

But the loans were funded.

By showing off new technology electric cars, critics Chrysler and others are trying to favor with legislators.

I think it’s coincidental we’ve got GM and Chrysler showing off vehicles just as the industry to Washington to make their said Erich Merkle, industry analyst at Crowe

At the event Tuesday, Nardelli that he had recently been in with House Speaker Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Majority Leader Harry (D-Nev.) and House Energy and Chairman John Dingell We’re trying to be clear these investments qualify for the he said. Executives at GM and Ford also been in talks lawmakers.

Two of the vehicles unveiled — the Town Country and the Jeep Wrangler — are on existing vehicle platforms. combines an electric motor, a and a 1-liter gasoline generator.

to Frank Klegon, Chrysler’s of product development, they be able to go 40 miles on battery alone before the generator in, giving them another 360 of range. They will in front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive so that enthusiasts will be to roam the planet while care of it at the same time, said.

Chevrolet Electric Cars

The third vehicle, a Dodge-branded based on a platform designed by carmaker Lotus, runs on battery power. Tiny, and lightweight, it accelerates to 60 mph from a in less than five and can travel 150 to 200 miles on a charge.

specs make it similar to an car already on the market, the Tesla That $109,000 car is also on a Lotus platform, runs on power alone and breaks the acceleration barrier.

Imitation is the form of flattery, said Siry, head of sales, and service at Tesla Motors. a two-seat sportscar and putting it on a track is not the difficult part. it to market is.

At the event Tuesday, let journalists drive the Jeep and the car, both of which the rapid acceleration and continuous typical of electric vehicles. All quiet. That silence, one commented, is the sound of the death of power.

Chrysler Vice Chairman Jim said that a recharge of the batteries, which could about four hours on 220 current, would cost as as 70 cents.

Battery technology is in any electric vehicle — so with lithium ion batteries, the du jour but one that has proved to perfect. Chrysler said it was with several possible including Massachusetts-based A123 which is also working on for GM.

Toyota, which has become the leader in hybrid technology to its Prius, has announced plans for a version of that car that have a longer all-electric and better efficiency. Test are due out in 2010. Other carmakers, as Nissan and Mitsubishi, have they will produce cars, with the latter to begin selling them in next year.

Among automakers, Chrysler has been the on alternative drivetrain technology. GM and Ford have had hybrids on the for several years, Chrysler is now delivering its first hybrids full-size Dodge- and Chrysler-branded — to dealership lots.

Now, with its big bet on electric Chrysler seems to be taking the on what people will be in the future.

These are extraordinary for the auto industry, Nardelli Meeting this challenge a major step forward.

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