Dodge ESX3 Hybrid
After working on the ESX
Hybrid concept car series for several years, DaimlerChrysler
unveiled a light 5-passenger car steeped in high technology,
as its car of the future. The plastic body, sparse aluminum
frame, and ultra efficient design were not the real attraction;
its magnetic electric motor/generator engine was.
The Dodge ESX3 Hybrid
concept car was the fourth iteration of a hybrid car line,
and the first to be ready for introduction to the public
as a private passenger car.
The Dodge ESX3 Hybrid has a 1.5 liter direct-injection 3-cylinder
diesel engine for primary propulsion with a backup 20 horsepower
magnet electric motor/generator with a lithium-ion battery as
a secondary means of power. It uses one of the most innovative
new technologies to recharge the battery during braking, and
then the battery is used to run all the non-propulsive systems
in the car. The manual transmission is also electric, and unlike
earlier manual transmissions has seamless, quiet shifting just
like a full automatic car: you have the fuel efficiency of the
manual, with the comfort of the automatic.
Other features of the car are equally fuel-efficient. For instance,
the seats in the car are climate controlled to heat or cool
passengers and driver, instead of an air conditioner or electric
blower for a heater for climate control. And, the lightweight
car is designed to pass all the government's crash tests.
The Dodge ESX3 Hybrid was developed in response to a challenge
issued by the U.S. government to create a highly fuel-efficient
car that is also cost effective. The first ESX concept car
didn't address much of this challenge at all, being moderately
fuel-efficient but with a cost penalty (the increase in
what you would normally pay the dealer) of about $60,000
- far out of the reach of most families. The ESX3, on the
other hand, has only a $7,500 cost penalty if it is mass
produced, which is an MSRP of about $28,500. Suddenly, it's
not so expensive to be green.
The peak fuel efficiency of the Dodge ESX3 Hybrid is about
72 miles to the gallon, with extremely low emissions due
to the highly efficient diesel engine.
Elements of the ESX3 Hybrid have been incorporated into
several other Chrysler vehicles, including the Jeep and
the Dodge Durango. With the recent tremendous increases
in the cost of gasoline, there's no doubt that hybrid technologies
will rapidly grow in popularity and Chrysler-Dodge may rethink
bringing the ESX3 to market or at least create some variation
thereof in order to compete with the other hybrid automakers
who are currently doing well in this growing field.