A year ago, Chrysler LLC brought a herd of steers to the Detroit auto show to herald the global launch of the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.
Now Chrysler is fighting for survival. It must show that it has a plan for a more fuel-efficient future.
Instead of livestock and horsepower, Chrysler will show off the latest versions of the electric vehicles it unveiled in September. Back then, there were three vehicles: the Chrysler EV, a gasoline-electric version of the Town & Country minivan; the Jeep EV, a gasoline-electric Wrangler; and the Dodge EV, an all-electric sports car. All are products of the company's ENVI electric car unit.
Chrysler will display at least three vehicles. In contrast to GM's strategy with the Chevrolet Volt, which is to design a new car for the electric powertrain, Chrysler's plan is to save money by putting a gasoline-electric powertrain in existing vehicles.
The exception may be Dodge. The Dodge EV shown in September was a Lotus-derived electric sports car. Look for the show version to have more Dodge styling cues and possibly be a four-passenger coupe.
Chrysler says the first production vehicle from its electric efforts will arrive in 2010, but it isn't saying which one.