DETROIT– Chrysler LLC's answer to the much-anticipated Chevrolet Volt could be three to five years away, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker launched a special division within the company last fall called ENVI to bring electric-drive vehicles and related advanced-propulsion technologies to market, according to the Detroit Free Press.
General Motors Corp. has promised a breakthrough electric-drive vehicle called the Chevy Volt by 2010.
The move by Chrysler comes as some dealers quietly question why Chrysler is not stepping up efforts to bring more hybrid technology to market quicker in light of $4/gallon gasoline and tanking SUV and truck sales. Some dealers tell the Free Press they've been told not to expect the bulk of the automaker's lineup to have a hybrid option in the near future.
Around September, Chrysler will begin to offer two hybrids: the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango — both SUVs and both priced below GM's similar models.
GM and Chrysler teamed up with Mercedes-Benz and BMW to develop a two-mode hybrid system. Chrysler, beyond announcing plans to have a Dodge Ram hybrid in its 2010 model year, remains mum on hybrid plans.
A market forecast by J.D. Power and Associates predicts that Chrysler will offer a hybrid option with the Dodge Grand Caravan next year and with the Dodge Avenger car and Journey crossover in 2013. Last year, Chrysler announced plans to spend $3 billion to develop more fuel-efficient powertrains. A big part of that announcement has been the development of a new V-6 engine, axle, and dual-clutch transmission, all of which Chrysler executives promise will deliver fuel savings.
And there are Chrysler's diesel efforts. The new Dodge Ram is expected to have a diesel option to introduce after 2009.