Chrysler Releases “New” Dodge Circuit Electric Car – Still No Tesla


This has been a Lotus/Chrysler-heavy blog in the past few days, but let’s face it: if you’re talking advanced automotive technology and lightweight engineering, you’re talking about Lotus Cars – and if you’re talking highly-anticipated new electric vehicles at Detroit’s 2009 NAIAS auto show, you’re talking about Chrysler’s ENVI electric-vehicle program.

The car shown above is the Dodge Circuit, which Chrysler promised would be a real step forward from the concept Dodge EV they showed last summer (a UK-only Lotus Europa powered by a 200 kW electric motor that Dodge painted yellow and decorated with cheap vinyl stickers).  I won’t keep you in suspense:  it ain’t.

More – including Chrysler’s official press release and some official photography – after the jump.

The technical/engineering changes made to Chrysler’s sporty EV since last summer (previously shown here) can be summed up in four words:  they moved the plug.

That’s right:  six months and billions of tax-payer dollars later, Chrysler’s ENVI division seriously expects the public at large to accept the same A123 battery pack and 200 kW electric-motored Lotus with snazzy-paint as an eco-holy flagship for the Dodge brand.  Granted, this car does have a new “crosshair” grille in the front bumper to make it look more like a Dodge product … but the whole point of having a grille opening in the front of a conventional car is to direct cooling air to the car’s radiator.

The Dodge Circuit EV doesn’t have a radiator.

More than anything else, the bizarre inclusion of a crosshair grille sheds light on what this car really means to Chrysler management:  it is a marketing exercise (at best) and a con (at worst).

How do I really feel?  I commented last week that I feared this concept car would be “a truly half-hearted attempt by all involved to pay lip-service to the green movement while getting down to the business of selling (more profitable gas-guzzlers).”  I only wish I had been less right.

Don’t get me wrong – I know, just KNOW that Chrysler can build a winning hybrid/electric vehicle … but this isn’t it. (hint: it’s a minivan!)

Chrysler’s official propaganda press release below.  Photos courtesy of Chrysler.

Dodge Circuit EV

Dodge Circuit EV: Brand new version of all-electric sports car boasts unique, fearless Dodge design

All-electric vehicle delivers sports car performance with zero gasoline consumption, zero tailpipe emissions and 150-200 mile driving range

The Dodge Circuit EV displays bold exterior and interior styling with outstanding performance, zero gasoline consumption and zero tailpipe emissions.

The Dodge Circuit EV design screams pure sports car from every angle. The Dodge Circuit EV’s profile demonstrates perfect proportions for balanced handling, placing the driver and passenger midway along the wheelbase. At the front of the vehicle, the distinctive Dodge crosshair grille splits the wind, sending it over the long, low hood and cleanly over the windshield and cockpit. The body sides feature a deep scallop, providing visual depth and also a functional rear-brake air duct. At the rear, the functional elements blend with design to create a uniform finish.

“The exterior styling of the Dodge Circuit EV mates bold Dodge styling to the no-compromise performance attributes of an all-electric performance sports car,” said Ralph Gilles, Vice President – Design, Chrysler LLC. “The Dodge Circuit EV offers an extremely fun-to-drive, expressive sports car without fuel consumption and with virtually no impact on the environment.”

The Dodge Circuit EV is adorned in all-new “Tangoreen” exterior color, wearing large “EV” graphics on both sides of the sports car.

The uncomplicated interior of the Dodge Circuit EV delivers a combination of pure function and athletic refinement. The cockpit design puts complete control of the car at the driver’s fingertips. Nestled within a leather-covered instrument cluster are two primary analog-face gauges. A digital display conveys information regarding the electric-drive system.

The seats feature deep bolsters and are covered in premium leather. The same premium leather covers the center console and the width of the instrument panel.

The Dodge Circuit EV delivers all of the convenience features of a performance sports car, including premium sound system, power windows and door locks, air conditioning, speed control.

Propelled by a completely electric ENVI drivetrain, the Dodge Circuit EV posts impressive performance numbers:

0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds

¼-mile in 13 seconds

Top speed of more than 120 mph

Perhaps the most impressive Dodge Circuit EV number, however, is zero. That’s how much gasoline the vehicle consumes while providing exhilarating sports car performance. It’s also how much tailpipe emissions are produced.

The Dodge Circuit EV utilizes just three powertrain components. These include a 200 kW (268 horsepower) electric motor to drive the wheels, an advanced lithium-ion battery system to power the electric-drive motor, and a controller that manages energy flow.

Working with the latest advanced lithium-ion battery technology, the Dodge Circuit EV has a driving range of 150 to 200 miles between charges – more than triple the average daily commute of most consumers. Recharging the vehicle is a simple one-step process: plugging into a standard 110-volt household outlet. The recharge time can be cut in half by using a typical 220-volt household appliance power outlet.

The Dodge Circuit EV offers driving enthusiasts a performance sports car that can be driven to work every day – without consuming gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions.

Dodge Circuit EV – Vehicle Specifications

Vehicle Type Battery Electric Vehicle,

2-passenger performance coupe

Weight and Dimensions

Length 153.5 inches / 3900 mm

Width 67.5 inches / 1714 mm

Height 45.3 inches / 1150 mm

Wheelbase 91.7 inches / 2330 mm

Track front / rear 57.4 inches / 1457 mm 58.7 inches / 1490 mm

Turn circle 38.0 feet / 11.6 m

Powertrain and Suspension

Layout Rear-wheel drive

Motor Power: 200 kW (268 hp)

Regenerative braking

Battery Lithium-ion battery

Suspension Front – Independent

Rear – Independent

Wheels and Tires

Tire size front P195 / 45ZR17 23.9 inches / 607 mm

Tire size rear P235 / 40ZR18 25.4 inches / 645 mm

Color Scheme

Exterior Tangoreen

Interior Black Leather with Satin Silver accents

Key Performance Attributes

0-60 mph (0-100 kph) less than 5 seconds

Standing ¼-mile low-13 seconds

Top speed greater than 120 mph (approximately 193 kph)

All-electric range 150-200 miles (approximately 241-322 km)

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.