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Chrysler’s Three Electric Drive Concept Cars Highlight New Modular, Shared Systems Approach

The Chrysler ecoVoyager fuel cell extended range electric vehicle.

Chrysler unveiled three different electric drive concept cars at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit: the Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept, an electric vehicle with a fuel cell range extender; the Jeep Renegade Concept, an electric vehicle with a BLUETEC diesel range extender; and the Dodge ZEO Concept, a battery electric vehicle with a 250-mile range.

Chrysler envisions its electric-drive systems to be modular, with a high-level of technology sharing and component reuse. Common elements include a 200 kW (268 hp) electric motor, electrical architecture, power electronics, and grid-chargeable lithium-ion battery technology, among others.

Ecovoychassis Renegade_chassis Zeo_chassis
The ecoVoyager chassis. The Renegade chassis. The ZEO chassis.
Click each image to enlarge.

In execution, this approach is comparable to the efforts GM is making with its E-Flex system: common electric powertrain elements with varied sources of electricity.

Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept. The ecoVoyager is an electric vehicle with a 16 kWh lithium-ion battery module that supports a 40-mile all-battery range. Total driving range is 300 miles when coupled with the 45 kW PEM fuel cell range extender.

The common 200 kW electric motor drives the front wheels. Compressed hydrogen is stored in 700 bar (10,000 psi) tanks.

Jeep Renegade concept.

The Jeep Renegade. The Renegade concept also uses also an electric vehicle with the common 40-mile, 16 kWh lithium-ion battery module, but uses dual 200 kW motors—one on each axle—for four-wheel-drive capability.

Driving range is extended by an electric generator coupled to a 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder BLUETEC diesel engine. Renegade has a 400-mile combined range, and is capable of achieving an equivalent petroleum fuel economy of 110 mpg.

Dodge ZEO BEV.

The Dodge ZEO. The ZEO is a full Battery Electric Vehicle powered by the common electric motor driving the rear wheels. Driving range is 250 miles with the integrating of multiple lithium-ion battery modules for a total energy rating of 64 kWh.

According to Chrysler, addressing future challenges such as global warming, energy security and customer wants and needs will require the production implementation of one or more of these technologies in the not-too-distant future.

Chrysler highlighted the concepts as examples of the type of products that its new ENVI in-house organization is tasked to deliver. Chrysler formed ENVI late last year with a focus on establishing Chrysler leadership in electric-drive vehicles and related advanced-propulsion technologies. (Earlier post.)

ENVI is to focus on executing Chrysler’s next-generation vehicles with technologies that complement the company’s current hybrid vehicle plans, and extend the benefits of hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).



Aesthetically I like the Dodge best.

Pricewise, I'm surprised the Dodge was the EV with the Chrysler being the PHEV. I would have thought an engine/genset cheaper than the additional batteries (and a higher price would thus be easier to recoup under the Chrysler badge).

Concept or not, if there is strong interest from the public (as the volt received) then it pushes them closer to reality.

Harvey D

I like the modular (16 KWh) battery pack approach.

It seems that you may eventually be able to buy a PHEV-40 with one 16-KWh pack and a PHEV-80 with two 16-KWh packs or modules and a full EV with 4 x 16-KWh modules = 64-KWh. Wonder if you could go down the PHEV lane with one 16-KWh module and add one more latter?

Smaller 8-KWh modules would offer more flexibility for smaller compact cars.

Interesting days ahead.


I think the best approach would be to make the battery pack take you from 60-100 miles on pure electric and use a much smaller ICE gen-set (10KW-20KW) to slowly charge the batteries while driving, and possibly after for long, high usage trips. That way you are not lugging around a huge gas motor that only needs to be used 10%-20% of the time.

I am glad that the main Auto companies are seeing the light of series gen/motor set over the traditional parallel configuration.


"Chrysler formed ENVI late last year with a focus on establishing Chrysler leadership in electric-drive vehicles and related advanced-propulsion technologies."

My impression is that Chrysler is playing catch-up.


Aw hell, this is all smoke and mirrors. Chrysler died with the K car and Iacoca. No one believes they'll ever make these cars. They're made in the US so it's probably just another ruse to kill the electric car again.

We'll be driving nice big 20mpg ICE cars for the next fifty years. Long live stability.


I want that renegage. That should be "featured" in an movie like the toureg was.


Chrysler should move swiftly to put one or more of these concepts into production. The Renegage appears to be the only 4wd serial hybrid announced. And there are lots of offroaders (okay "claimed" offroaders) who love the rugged appearance. They could carve out a 4wd EV niche and build out from there.

Modular batteries is a good path to take. Allowing low cost entry into EVs. But, for the budget minded, buying liquid fuel for range extension will probably supplant the purchase of additional battery packs.

Stan Peterson

Chrysler is as much as truck company as is Ford. So it must have an approach to solving truck engine efficiency as well as auto efficiency.

They are well advanced on that front. They have already announced a T2B5 Cummins turbo diesel setup for their big pickups that will surely show up in their SUVs. As an gasoline alternative they have the GM/Chrysler/BMW 2-mode hybrid drive train already announced in their SUVs, mated to a variable displacement large V8. The small SOHC all alloy V8 has just been throughly redone, and updated, and uprated. That small V8 is now a candidate for use there as well.

The coming new generation Phoenix V6 has all the feature to replace the V8s in those applications too.

I await a 2 mode hybrid announcement in their minivans. GM has announced a front drive version of the 2-mode, and Chrysler can't be far behind for their Minivans. The 2-mode would be an answer for the large RWD sedans too. At the small end, the World I4-(and I3) jointly developed by Chrysler, Mitsubishi and Kia is a high feature engine that would have all the features, all alloy, VVT, DOHC, DI, Atkinson cycle capability, for a hybrid drive for the mid-size and smaller cars with displacements varying from 1.3 to 2.4 L. These engines seem to be fine candidates for eventual HCCI operation too.

The only thing I have not seen is the low end 2.0 - 2.5 liter dual turbo T2B5 diesel kinds of applications, Or HCCI work. Both appeared in the Mercedes F700. But Chrysler is still going to build the Phoenix V6 for Mercedes; so they may get the Mercedes small diesels like in the F700, or S300 concepts recently shown by Mercedes.

They even have CVTs and six-speed dual clutch automated manuals transmissions announced; as well as 5, 6, and 7 speed automatics, slowly spreading in their product line.

It seems surprising that little Chrysler appears to have so many answers already, to the need for 2020 drive trains.

The Electrification of Ground Transport gathers strength in the emerging storm of such vehicles, from all the manufacturers.

Harvey D


I too would prefer more battery power and less generator ICE power but you may need more than 10 Kw or even 20 Kw to keep going at highway speed for extended periods.

However, many people think that 30 Kw to 40 Kw should be suffisant. A very light weight, small, modular 20-30-40 Kw flexfuel generator should hum along at the most efficient speed while producing enough e-energy to keep the batteries charged for hours on long trips.

Honda, Suzuki and others have similar (but heavier) generators in production. An international competition could come out with efficient, compact, very light weight units. Very large mass production (10+ million/year) could keep the price very low.

This standard type of modular gensets (and the associated modular battery packs) should be easily replaceable/exchangeable and fit in various PHEVs.


I like the looks of the ecoVoyager. I noticed that it does not have door handles, so I wondered how you get in and out of the vehicle. Maybe one of those wireless things on your key fob.


They are still all concept cars. Which means that price and possible production dates are nebulous. I like the ideas but I won't cheer till I can buy one at a reasonable price.
And Sulleny I think you're wrong but only because ever increasing fuel prices are going to force Detroits (and the general publics) hand.


A 64kWh LiIon battery is going to weigh realistically at least 640kg or 1400lbs. Add to empty weight without engine, exhaust etc of about 1800lbs at best - then add motor, controller etc - this ZEO is a monster. PLus I do not see where you are physically going to put that many LiIon batteries in that car (a Volt lookalike). Propaganda.

Gerald Shields

Of course, none of this mean jack if these vehicles don't give shipped. However, Chysler has a good history of shipping some of their concept cars, so I guess we will wait and see.


"A 64kWh LiIon battery is going to weigh realistically at least 640kg or 1400lbs"

Not to mention that at todays prices, a LiPo battery of that size would cost upwards of $40,000 US.


I want to convert my Taurus SHO into a 3 mode hybrid. Maybe two 40kw motors and a 1000 cc 4 cylinder engine. This has nothing to do with this article, just thought I would mention it :)


Quoth James:

I think the best approach would be to make the battery pack take you from 60-100 miles on pure electric and use a much smaller ICE gen-set (10KW-20KW) to slowly charge the batteries while driving, and possibly after for long, high usage trips.
That's still the high-cost route; storing a kWh as liquid fuel is far cheaper than as electricity, so the only way it makes sense to use batteries is if you are going to use them frequently.  Capacity reserved for monthly or even weekly events is not likely to be worth it (unless you postulate a very rapid increase in fuel prices).

This is going to be more of a gradual thing.  The PHEV-40 will create a huge market for traction batteries, which will drive down the cost.  This will shift the break-even point to the PHEV-60, and only after that will it make sense to put 100 miles of electric capacity in the car.  Not too long after that, it will stop making sense to put engines and gas tanks in.


It sounded like the Volt would run for maybe 10 minutes on batteries and then run for 10 minutes on the electricity generated by the engine/alternator while they also charged the batteries back up.

That makes sense to me. Run the little engine flat out, where it makes a lot of power for the fuel it uses and shut it off for a while and run on batteries.

I think of a small engine that would get 30 mpg at 70 mph but now it only runs half the time....60 mpg at 70 mph. The engine should still say warm if shut off for only 5-10 minutes.

Derick Trammell

These are some neat prototype vehicles.

The problem is the technology, battery technology while feasible, is not economical. In fact our entire transportation system, aircraft, roadway, ship, and train systems are all at their limits with todays infrastructure and designs. I doubt that the personal vehicle will be affordable by the average citizen in the next 10 or 20 years. But, I think traffic congestion and road capacity will be exceeded first. Also, we will not be able to locate or create enough lithium to meet demand if that becomes the primary ingredient in most battery powered devices or vehicles.

No some other source of energy and portable power/storage unit will need to be created.


Meet catch 22: Batteries can be made more cheaply if mass produced, mass production only if demand warrants it, but demand will only be high if batteries are cheap. Solution: produce high price luxury EVs, the rich will buy them, the price of batteries will drop as battery factories come online paid for by the demand for luxury EVs, thus opening the field for cheaper EVs.


Quoth sjc:

It sounded like the Volt would run for maybe 10 minutes on batteries
The Volt is supposed to have a 40-mile all-electric range, which is better than a half-hour at 70 MPH.  After that, I doubt it matters; an optimized control algorithm might have the car run the engine from the beginning if the commute is near or over the range limit and the weather calls for cabin heat.

Quoth Ben:

Meet catch 22: Batteries can be made more cheaply if mass produced, mass production only if demand warrants it, but demand will only be high if batteries are cheap.
I think you missed the point.  Batteries are rapidly becoming cheaper than fuel for the first 10-40 miles per day, driven by forces outside the automotive sector.  Once PHEVs become a substantial part of the battery market, they will help drive the cost further down the curve; the world-wide automotive market can use more capacity as traction batteries than all other portable devices put together.


@ Engineer-Poet

Demand driving down cost, yes probably. But demand driving down price, less likely. This is certainly not the case with wind turbines or PV's.

These are short-term effects, of course. In the long run, when supply catches up with demand, I think you're right


Hope the New Chrysler is serious about these concepts, and implementing their ideas into future platforms. Jim Press said something to the effect at a Las Vegas event that the people at Chrysler are good implementers, they just need the tools and a vision, then get out of their way. It will be interesting to see the fruits of their labors in the coming years--I just hope Cerberus investors continue to have patience enough to see the efforts through.


The 10 minutes was just an example. An E-flex car may come out with less than a 40 mile range (40 miles at what speed?)

If an E-flex with half the battery capacity of the Volt has a 20 mile range fully depleted at 45 mph, 10 minutes at 70 mph might bring you down to 50% capacity to preserve battery life. At that point the engine/generator comes on for maybe 5 minutes to provide electricity for the traction motor and charge the batteries back up.

The point is, a series hybrid can give good performance and mileage with less than 40 mile battery only range.

Joe Six-pack

All Cerberus has to do is put a diesel, any diesel, into the wrangler and then the cash rolls in. They would not be able to get them off the line fast enough. I doubt it though. they are obviously still stuck in the realm of "concept." While Detroit mamby-pambies around Europe, Japan, Korea innovate. Nothing can save the Big 3 from themselves...just like the rest of us...


Chrysler ideas are too complex & aren't thinking about the initial restrictions of batteries. They are just playing at Hybrid catch-up.

Make internal combustion engines for ICE people. Make electric vehicles for EV people. Hybrids haven't taken off because ICE & EV people don't like them.

For EVs, in-wheel electric motors MUST be made to work since they save lots of interior space & drive-train weight. Any other motor concept is bankrupt.

Some people complain about unsprung weight from in-wheel motors. But the first large numbers of enthusiastic EV owners are looking for motion via electric motors. They will forgive a bit extra unsprung motion, specially since electric motors have their own elegant & smooth forward motion superior to ICE. They will see the use of in-wheel motors as an innovative space & weight saving technique for installation of extra batteries. They will cheer any range extension due to in-wheel motors even tho the range still might be pretty limited.

Luxury EVs are not initially necessary. The first buying EV enthusiasts want to save energy & want their EVs small. Auto makers will make their profits on later luxury EVs. But establish their markets by catering to the first EV enthusiasts who will have greater forgivness for new EV technologies.

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