2009 Detroit Auto Show: Chrysler 200C EV
By Kevin Miller
Jim Press opened Chrysler’s press conference today with tired jokes tying last year’s cattle round-up stunt from introduction of the new Dodge Ram to bulls and bull markets, and then said that because it’s a bear market this year the cows couldn’t come. Or something like that. I almost lost interest listening to the drivel. Fortunately, he quickly moved on to talking about Chrysler and what they are doing about making vehicles Americans want to buy.
Press said that this year, one hundred extended-range electric vehicles will be in the hands of fleet customers, and next year Chrysler’s first extended-range electric vehicles will be available to customers. He also proclaimed that Chrysler is “building cars and trucks people want and love,” and that Chrysler is moving toward use of electric vehicles as the cornerstone of their business.
While I don’t know how many people love Chrysler’s current offerings, they have some great looking electric vehicles in their pipeline as demonstrated by the two concepts they showed today: The Dodge Circuit EV and the Chrysler 200C EV.
Of those vehicles, the big news, however, was the 200C EV, Chrysler’s “sedan of the future. This vehicle is by far the best looking design I’ve seen out of Chrysler, ever. The 200C EV is a rear-wheel drive vehicle, capable of all-electric propulsion up to 40 miles using its 74 HP electric motor, with a total range of 400 miles using both battery power and the 268 HP gasoline motor.
Inside of the 200C EV, Chrysler has designed their sedan of the future with advanced vehicle connectivity features. The entire instrument and control surface appears as a single curved compound surface, which has sections serving both display and control functions, with some areas operating as a multi-function touchscreen control. Beyond Bluetooth phone integration and digital music control, the vehicle features the next generation of Chrysler’s uconnect infotainment system which includes internet connectivity.
The compound touch surface is a touch screen that serves as the hub for the vehicle’s connectivity system – a system that offers endless avenues of communication and transforms the interior into a portal to the outside world. Simply touching the smooth glass surface deploys a personal touch screen computer from the glove box for passenger use. Users can surf the Internet, scroll through their personal media library, schedule vehicle maintenance or send directions to the driver. Among the features touted as integrated in the vehicle connectivity are social networking tools allowing instant messages to be sent to friends, and vehicle position location information to be transmitted.
Chrysler also showed a mobile phone application in conjunction with the 200C EV’s connectivity, which allows the owner to communicate with the car from a mobile phone to check security status, start the car, open or close windows, and lock or unlock doors.
While a majority of the connectivity features seem to be flights of fancy as well as dangerous driver distractions, integrating some of these functions into the vehicle electronic system could actually help reduce driver distraction, as many drivers do routinely send SMS messages and view social networking sites from their mobile phones while driving.
Regardless of how much of the connectivity technology makes it to production, the 200C EV is a great looking car. If Chrysler can bring a vehicle to market with the 200C EV’s looks and high-quality interior materials, they’ll likely have their next renaissance car, as they had over two decades ago with the K-Car. If not, the taxpayers will likely be out a little bit of money.
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