Ex-Chrysler and Ford engineering titan Chris Theodore unveiled a chassis at the SAE World Congress in Detroit last week that he says will cut vehicle weight and manufacturing costs and make electric vehicles more economically viable.
Theodore, now a consultant, showcased his Uni-Chassis, which connects front and rear powertrain and suspension components to a rigid backbone. He's targeting hybrids and electrics; instead of keeping the battery unit in a battery pack and reinforcing the body to support the pack, the Uni-Chassis backbone would house the battery.
"If it can be weight-efficient with a structure like Uni-Chassis, then that makes the business case more palatable," he said
Theodore was at Chrysler 12 years before joining Ford in 1999 as North American product chief. After retiring in 2004 he was CEO of supplier ASC Inc. and specialty-car maker Saleen Inc. He started his consulting firm in 2009.
Theodore plans to have a proof-of-concept Shelby Cobra built this year and says low-volume production could be possible in three years.