Thursday, February 14, 2008

Concept Dodge ZEO

No engine, just a motor and big lithium-ion batteries, thus ZEO for Zero Emissions Operation. This plug-in electric car is purported to go the distance for the sporty commuter—a claimed 250 miles. It has a semi-practical 4-door wagon shape, yet a sportingly low roofline of 50.8 in., not to mention aggressively oversized 23-in. wheels. Due to its sporting nature, seating is limited to four.

Where the Honda Insight failed to satisfy performance-yet-green-minded drivers, the ZEO could. Combining a rear-drive platform with a 64-kilowatt-hour, lithium-ion battery pack and a 200-kilowatt (268-horsepower) electric motor—and a claimed 0-60-mph time of under 6 seconds—the ZEO could be just what the electric car needed.

Bill Zheng, Dodge ZEO principal exterior designer, says, “The Dodge ZEO concept is designed to break the paradigm of what an electric car should look like.” Like many of the show cars here in Detroit, the ZEO uses exterior surface lighting—in this case, on the crosshair grille. Its shape is attractive, although the reality of owning a car with scissor doors and painted ZEO Orange might be a little much.

Its stark-white interior is much more pleasant. Typical of show cars, the interior is not about practicality. Some of the elements may make it to production, such as the blue LED accent lighting and lack of part lines on the dash.

We’ll have to wait and see if Dodge can really pull off such a car, as the battery technology isn’t there and sporting electric vehicles have yet to be made popular. But it doesn’t mean they couldn’t do it.

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