Dodge has got a long way to go if it’s to convince people it’s really concerned about the environment. The car the American firm was really trumpeting at Detroit was a concept muscle car called the Zeo. A lithium ion battery powered lightweight car that will do 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds and has an equivalent power output to 286bhp sounds impressive – until you see it’s only got a range of 250 miles.
With a conventionally fuelled motor, that’s not an issue. But plugging a car in for a lengthy charge half way through a holiday trip might prove a touch tiresome…
Perhaps Dodge knew the strange looking Zeo with its monster 23-inch wheels and head skimming roof didn’t quite stack up because the launch was very low-key for the American firm. Along with offerings from sister firms Jeep and Chrysler, the Dodge was driven onto the stage with none of the usual brio associated with the firm’s launches.
According to design boss Trevor Creed, the concept targets drivers who place less emphasis on practicality. Just as well because with the batteries mounted under the floor, space in the back seats and boot looks limited.
While the Zeo might be a flight of fancy to show the firm is at least considering green issues, the real world car Dodge launched showed scant concern for the environment. Amid a herd of 120 longhorn cattle, transported specially from Oklahoma (consider how much fuel that must have used!), the firm revealed its new Ram pick-up truck.
At 5.7m long and with the smallest model returning just 24mpg from a 3.7-litre engine, the Ram’s success is far from guaranteed. It’s joining a market with sales on the slide in the US, possibly suggesting buyers here are slightly more in touch with their green side than Dodge is.
On the positive side, Dodge announced it would launch a hybrid Ram pick-up in 2010. But we can’t help wondering if anyone will still be buying full-sized trucks in two years’ time. This unveil smacked of desperation.
They say: The Dodge Zeo is designed to break the paradigm of what an electric car should look like
We say: It certainly does that! Shame it’s not really practical in the real world
CAR’s verdict: 1/5