DETROIT -- Electric vehicles are not flash-in-the-pan engineering projects for Chrysler LLC.
Speaking today at the Automotive News Green Car Conference and Exhibition, Lou Rhodes, Chryslers vice president of advanced engineering, said the goal is to create a long-term viable business for Chrysler.
In September, Chrysler rolled out three vehicles, an electric sports car based on a Lotus, and two range-extended vehicles -- a Chrysler minivan and a Jeep Wrangler -- and promised to launch one to consumers by 2010. A range-extended vehicle is driven by an electric motor only, but has a gasoline engine mated to a generator that produces electricity.
Rhodes today didnt say which vehicle Chrysler would produce, but he did say that the first electric or range extended vehicle would likely be sold through a small number of dealers first before a nationwide rollout.
He said Chrysler believes small, dedicated electric vehicles with a range of about 75 miles designed for city use have big potential.
They will be the first affordable EVs for consumers, he said.
Rhodes said Chrysler engineers are working on modular battery packs, control systems and software that can be installed in a number of vehicles, some of which would be built by Chrysler on the assembly line and some which would be built by outside suppliers.
Rhodes said Chrysler has learned a lot about consumers buying habits from its GEM division, which produces small electric neighborhood vehicles, and the hybrid versions of the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen.