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Chrysler Electric Cars

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3715 Inner Perimeter Road

Owning an Electric Car

Electric Vehicles: 2009 and Beyond, Part II

2011 Chevrolet Volt


See Part I: How Electric Vehicles Work

See A History of the Electric Vehicle

Tesla Roadster

Chrysler EVs

By Alison Lakin, Associate Editor

What You Can Buy Now

With regards to fully crash-tested, highway safe electric vehicles here in the U.S. pickings are noticeably slim (read: there’s only one). Right now, city cars or neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) are still more prevalent. These are not highway safe and remain speed limited because of a lack of safety testing and pesky little safety features like airbags.

It is not that they don’t care if little Jimmy in the backseat is involved in an accident, the small companies don’t have the capital for the testing and implementation of all the features. To cover the expensive overheads of new technology, the city cars aren’t a cheap proposition and are frequently bought as company vehicles for within business parks and resorts.

The ZENN car is a perfect example. This two-seater is limited at 25 mph and has a range of about 35 miles. If you are staying within city limits and just running errands, this is a great zero-emissions option.

Chrysler Electric Cars

It is expensive at a starting price of $15,995, and luxuries like air conditioning will bump the cost up considerably.

GEM, owned by Chrysler, is another city car company. They lean heavily toward work trucks and bear a strong resemblance to golf carts. With a 30-mile maximum per charge and a limited speed of 25 mph, these vehicles are only allowed on roads with a posted speed limit of 35 and below.

Rick Kasper, its President and COO, is positive about the future of these city cars and has witnessed the EV market’s growth. “Since GEM cars first hit the roads in 1998, the market has transformed,” says Kasper. “With high gas prices and the movement to be more eco-friendly, both the fleet and retail automotive markets have become much more attracted to alternative fuel, economical transportation options including GEM cars, especially in 2008.”

Another EV maker, Zap, produces a three-wheeler EV for those looking to make a distinctive statement. Their Xebra Sedan is drivable for just 25 miles before a recharge is needed. The car may look goofy, but it does actually fit four passengers at a price of only $11,700.

Like GEM, their utility vehicles seem to garner the most attention from corporate buyers – still the biggest purchasers of this technology.

Ok, but what if I’d like to hit the highway in my car?

The only road legal, fully electric car available as of print is the Tesla Roadster, which has just started hitting the streets. Only 30-something are driving around on our roads.

Martin Eberhard, founder and former CEO of Tesla, is a believer in the top-down approach to new technology. “If we make electric cars cool to own,” he says, “if they become desirable, the public will be more readil.

Chrysler Electric Cars
Chrysler Electric Cars
Chrysler Electric Cars

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