When Chrysler dropped its bevy of extended-range electric vehicles in our laps today as part of the company's new ENVI program, we wondered how coincidental it was that Chrysler was claiming the same all-electric range as the much ballyhooed Chevy Volt. The Volt makes concessions to seating and obsessively maximizes aerodynamics to get its 40 mile range, but the Chrysler EV and the Jeep EV both claim 40 miles as well. No funny-shaped center consoles, no wacky aero-trickery, just batteries and electric motors. So what's the deal? Not surprisingly, it's mainly the batteries that make the difference here.Battery storage capacity is measured in watt-hours, more or less the total amount of energy used over time. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is simply a thousand watt-hours and this is what's used to measure big batteries, the kind used in modern hybrids.The Chevy Volt uses a 16 kWh battery and only really functions within a range of 50-80% charge in order to extend battery life. In the figures Chrysler published to go along with the Chrysler EV, the hybridized minivan is equipped with a 22 kWh lithium-ion battery which operates at 200 kW and up to 410 volts — considerably larger than the electric fuel tank in the Volt. The big battery gets it to the 40-mile range, but the exciting part is the electric motor. Clocking in at 268 HP with a whopping 480 lb-ft of torque, the minivan will hustle to sixty in a silly 8.7 seconds. Keep in mind these are Chrysler numbers on an as-yet not approved for production vehicle, so take them all with a grain of salt. The Jeep EV, in comparison, holds a massive 27 kWh; since the Wrangler has the aerodynamics of a brick and its system powers all four wheels, the bigger battery is necessary when compared to the minivan in order to hit 40 miles of EV range. To be honest, we're a bit perplexed by the choice of motor to compliment that monster battery. The Jeep keeps the same 268 HP, but for some reason torque comes in at a considerably less impressive 295 lb-ft. Zero to 60 takes around nine seconds, but still, we'd be more interested in that huge 480 lb-ft of torque from the minivan in the Jeep. In any case, the reason the Chryslers match the Volt in range is that they're great big platforms with plenty of room for great big batteries. If either of the two actually hit production it would be a huge deal, and given the amount of development work that seems to have gone into the ENVI system so far, it would be shocking if a hybridized something didn't come out of the program. [Information from Chrysler.com]
I don't know if it will be significant but I haven't heard anything about regenerative braking on the Chryslers. If that is so, then that may have a significant impact on the price. I've heard that that technology can be pricey to implement.
The key to the success of the Chryslers will be warranty of the batteries and drive train and the quality of the interior and the whole automobile.