The muscle cars that fueled automotive passion in the 1960s were wildly popular because high
performance is both fun and addicting. What if a car company could capture those same
emotions and sensations in a package that makes no excuses for its environmental impact ... a
vehicle that doesn't sacrifice performance for green credentials that literally screams, "drive me?"
Meet Chrysler's latest concept vehicle, the Dodge ZEO.
This is possible because the ZEO is propelled by a 200 kilowatt electric motor that supplies 268
horsepower to the rear wheels. The advanced propulsion system is fed by a 64 kilowatt-hour
lithium-ion battery pack that Chrysler says will offer a range in excess of 250 miles. The
batteries are located very low in the chassis and below the cabin floor for a low center of gravity.
Although the battery pack is large, ZEO manages to weigh in at just 2,650 pounds, thus
enhancing overall performance and handling.
"The Dodge ZEO concept is designed to break the paradigm of what an electric car should look
like," says Bill Zheng, Dodge ZEO principal exterior designer. "An electric car can be as
expressive as any gasoline powered vehicle. The Dodge ZEO concept proves that point ... and
Dodge is calling the ZEO a 2+2 sport wagon. The key word here is "sport" because very little
about ZEO evokes the image of a traditional station wagon. Yes, the cabin extends back to the
rear bumper with cargo space behind two rear buckets, but there is certainly nothing stodgy
about this wagon. Its stance is pure muscle car, with huge 23 inch alloy wheels filling the
exaggerated wheel arches and wide, rounded fender lines. ZEO is a very "fast" shape. The
windshield, for example, arches up at an extreme rake from the long and expressive hood,
extending all the way back over the passenger compartment to the "C" pillar. The cabin tucks
inward from the widest portion at the front door line to form a sculpted teardrop form at the
Fortunately, while the ZEO is very expressive, it hasn't lost the Dodge brand character. Cues like
the Dodge ram head badges and crosshair grille treatment, which is illuminated from behind,
make it easily recognizable as a Mopar. Both front and rear lamps are treated as separate
sculptural forms that add ,to the futuristic look of the car.
Zheng and his team took an unconventional approach with the door configuration. Rather than
hinging from the front or rear, the ZEO's doors swing up out of the way in a "scissor" fashion to
provide unobstructed access to the interior. Once these scissor doors are open, the interior
quickly becomes the center of attention. Lou Gasevski, principal interior designer of the Dodge
ZEO concept, describes the interior as "an example of designing for people who are used to a
dynamic lifestyle and who are surrounded with information and virtual friends at all times."
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