Dodge ZEO concept let loose at NAIAS

Dodge ZEO concept let loose at NAIAS

As petroleum prices skyrocket and hydrogen fuel-cells remain in the semi-distant future, more and more auto makers are turning to the electric vehicle as the solution for the present. The futuristic styling aside, the Dodge ZEO presents a decent argument for the practical possibilities of an EV. Not that those futuristic looks are in any way out of place or unwelcome - Dodge's new EV is rather sexy.

The 2+2 mates practicality with electro-hot-rod tendencies, such as the 23-inch rims, the muscular fender swells and the powerful 200kW (268hp) electric motor - the same one powering the hydrogen fuel-cell ecoVoyager concept. The combination of strong power and light weight give the ZEO a 0-60mph time that should come in under five seconds, according to Chrysler, which it says 'rivals [its] famed HEMI powerplant.'

The dramatic exterior styling is the focus of the ZEO, which draws inspiration from muscle cars of the past, mathematical concepts and tried-and-true principles of aerodynamics. The heavily sloped A-pillars are derived from the Möbius strip - a loop with only one exterior surface - that twists and joins into the rearward part of the canopy. The wrap-around windshield runs from the front almost all the way to the rear, giving a jet-like canopy to the sporty EV. Scissor doors and unique lighting accents finish the 'custom' feel of the ZEO.

Inside, organic forms are the mode. Aimed at the younger market - people who might actually buy such a car - the ZEO is replete with technological gadgetry. The long, narrow center console divides the cockpit into two regions, rising at the rear to complete the division. The unique steering-column/instrument panel unit are freestanding.

Weighing in at just 2,650lbs, the ZEO provides approximately a 10:1 lbs/hp ratio - just slightly better than a Nissan 350Z. Wheelbase and overall length are close to the Z as well, and with its 2+2 architecture (like the Mazda RX-8) the rear-wheel drive ZEO could prove to be a serious contender - and not just among EVs. Although, with a range of just 250mi, it's not quite ready for long-distance touring.