DETROIT –unveils a trio of concept vehicles that afford exceptional fuel economy, with varying emphasis on performance and styling, at the North American International Auto Show here.
Trevor Creed, senior vice president-design, says all three vehicles “take advantage of the best of new technologies and couple them with the room, comfort, speed and style customers will not sacrifice. (They allow) potential customers to still feel good about their personal impact on the environment even when simply having fun.”
TheecoVoyager is meant “for people who want a travel experience on a par with a private jet,” Creed tells Ward's at an auto show preview. “These customers are looking for elegance, simplicity and serenity.”
The 4-seater ecoVoyager features a single electric motor alternately powered by a lithium-ion battery pack and hydrogen fuel cell.
On a single charge, the battery affords 40 mile (64 km) of travel, while the fuel-cell “range extender” delivers an additional 260 miles (418 km).
The entire system is located below the car’s floor, Creed says. No engine or transmission.
The resulting space means Chrysler can employ a style the auto maker pioneered in the previous-generation Chrysler 300 sedan. “We can really make the most of cab-forward once again,” Creed says.
Twin skylights, a boat-tail back end and four individual seats contoured for “personalized comfort,” highlight the exterior, Chrysler says in a statement.
A floor console accommodates hot or cold beverages and a recessed area in the headliner between the skylights features a “Direct Sound” function, which affords occupants the choice of individually programmed music that can be heard without headphones and without disturbing fellow occupants.
While the ecoVoyager embodies luxury, the Dodge ZEO "is quite the opposite – very sporty,” Creed says.
The ZEO, short for Zero Emissions Operation, is a 4-passenger sport wagon for the gearhead with a conscience. The electric-only vehicle is powered by a Li-ion battery pack with a 250-mile (402-km) range.
Chrysler estimates the ZEO’s 200-kw (268 hp) motor is capable of 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in less than six seconds.
“That rivals our Hemi,” says Frank Klegon, executive vice president-product development.
Further highlighting the ZEO’s sporty nature are its “scissor” doors, orange and dark silver exterior and a grille lit to “communicate the use of electricity as the ZEO’s power source,” the auto maker says.
Rounding out Chrysler’s concepts is the Jeep Renegade, designed to attract a demographic the auto maker calls “stylish green” – Jeep enthusiasts who are “in harmony with nature.”
Its two electric motors are powered by a Li-ion battery, giving the open-air 2-seater a range of 40 miles (64 km). But when its 1.5L 3-cyl. Bluetec diesel engine kicks in, the Renegade can travel 400 miles (644 km) for a fuel-economy rating of 110 mpg (2.1 L/100 km).
On the Renegade's inside, there is similar attention to mitigating the vehicle's carbon footprint. Its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system is not coolant-based, while its matte-finish exterior is manufactured to avoid the use of solvents present in traditional automotive paints.
Wes Brown, consultant with California-based Nextrend, says Chrysler is on to something.
Estimates suggest environmentally conscious consumers spend more than $200 billion annually and "they don't want to compromise," Brown says.
These Chrysler concepts suggest environmental benefits can be achieved seamlessly, he adds.
Chrysler got serious about environmentalism in 2006, when it established ENVI – an in-house organization to frame the development of hybrid-electric vehicles and plug-in HEVs.
Says Creed: “Chrysler’s mission to be more environmentally friendly has significantly changed our outlook on this year’s concept vehicles.”