The green momentum in the automotive industry is undeniable, with every automaker developing toward the electrification of the car. A surprising number of electric concepts were on display at the 2009 Detroit auto show, including cars from GM, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, and Smart.
Chrysler 200C EV
Chrysler 200C EV:
Chrysler gave its electric power train a brand name at the Detroit auto show, calling it ENVI, and using it in a few concept cars, such as this sedan based on the 300C platform. This series hybrid drive lets the car go 40 miles on electricity, with an engine generating more energy for additional range when needed.
The instrument panel does away with switches, showing off a concept version of Chrysler's UConnect system. This new instrument panel would be used to control audio, video, navigation, and communications, and provides for social networking among cars. The passenger gets a tablet interface for more in-depth interaction.
The BlueZero represents the evolution of Mercedes-Benz's fuel cell vehicle. Based on the B-class platform, the new BlueZero can be configured as an E-Cell, or pure electric vehicle, F-Cell, or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, and E-Cell Plus, which adds a range extending engine generator to the E-Cell configuration.
The Converj concept looks at how a Cadillac would incorporate GM's Voltec power train, the series hybrid drive designed for the Volt. That power train would give it a range of 40 miles under electric power. The body uses Cadillac's Art and Science design language in a two door low-slung coupe.
Far from a concept, Smart will produce the lithium ion powered Electric Drive car later this year, although the company is still exploring whether to sell it in the U.S. A test program is currently being run in London, with more slated for Berlin and Italy.
Mini built 500 of these E electric car models, putting them in the hands of drivers in California, New Jersey, and New York. This test program is designed to give Mini data on a future production electric car.
The E represents a trade-off of battery space for passenger room. The lithium ion battery pack does away with the back seat, making the car a two-seater, but also putting the battery weight center so as not to interfere with the car's handling. The E has a range of 150 miles.
The Patriot EV uses Chrysler's ENVI power train, showing how a larger vehicle can be electrically driven. It's probably not much of an off-roader, but it will drive emission-free for 40 miles, with a range extending engine giving it power for an additional 360 miles.