Dodge Circuit at 2009 Detroit auto show
The industry is still poring over Chrysler's restructuring plan, submitted to the Feds yesterday. In addition to blowing the cover on two future Alfa Romeo model names, the plan proves that the first electric car from Chrysler's ENVI advanced-tech group will be the the Dodge Circuit (nee EV) sports car--which most observers had long assumed.
But, it looks like the 2011 Dodge Circuit won't be just a Lotus Europa with a cross-hatched nose. Instead, the Circuit will be an electric roadster, far closer to the company's 2007 Dodge Demon concept than to the lightly restyled Europa shown last month at the Detroit Auto Show.
The evidence is just a single word on page 135, in the diagram showing the future model program. Look at the column for calendar year 2010; see it there? It says "EV roadster". Not Circuit, not "EV coupe," but roadster.
The Demon concept was a direct competitor for the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Pontiac Solstice roadsters. It was shown with a 172-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine and a six-speed manual gearbox driving the rear wheels. The styling was cool, but it hardly broke new ground.
We called ENVI spokesperson Nick Cappa for comment on this little tidbit in the plan. He said, "We're really not commenting on anything in it." But he was laughing out loud as he said it, so we're assuming he was admitting, basically: You are so busted.
Of course, there's one other possibility too: Chrysler made a mistake. After all, on that same chart, in the same pale green that denotes "New Hybrid or Electric Vehicle," the lineup for calendar year 2008 lists the Chrysler Aspen "fullsize SUV HEV" and Dodge Durango "fullsize SUV HEV".
But they're already dead and buried, having been dispatched upon birth when Chrysler shut down the Durango/Aspen plant last December due to plummeting sales. At best, the company built a couple of hundred Two-Mode Hybrids altogether.
But amid the gloom and doom that surrounds Chrysler, we prefer to stay optimistic. We want an electric roadster, damnit--at Dodge prices rather than the Tesla Roadster's $109,000. You hear us, Nardelli? Or, gee, maybe we should say, you hear us, Presidential working group on the automotive industry?
2007 Dodge Demon Concept
[High five to Lee R. for pointing this one out--thanks, Lee!]