Chrysler has demonstrated that it won’t be left behind in the technology stakes with the unveiling of three near-production prototype electric vehicles at a press event at its Auburn Hills headquarters in Detroit today. The prototypes are the result of the carmaker’s recently established ‘ENVI’ hybrid and electric vehicle engineering center but help was also sourced from several outside entities including Lotus.

Lotus has provided its expertise in designing lightweight yet sturdy platforms, and also brings a wealth of experience following its co-development of the Tesla Roadster - another electric sports car built around one of its platforms.

Chrysler's new electric technology, meanwhile, has been designed to suit multiple vehicle platforms, including front and all-wheel-drive configurations as well as body-on-frame four-wheel-drive applications. Next year will see the launch of the first public test fleets, and by 2010 the first electric Chrysler will be hitting showrooms in North America. European customers will have to wait until 2011.

One of the first models planned is an all-electric sports car to be sold under the Dodge label. The car will feature a two-passenger body and rear-wheel-drive powertrain and will be a pure electric vehicle. Its electric-drive system will consist of three primary components, a 268hp (200kW) electric motor with an instantaneous 480lb-ft (650Nm) of torque on hand, lithium-ion batteries, and an integrated power controller.

Initial testing of the powertrain, seen here installed in a Lotus Europa body, has demonstrated that the car will be able to accelerate from 0-60mph in less than five seconds and cross the quarter mile in 13 seconds. Top speed will be in excess of 120mph.

Despite its strong performance (usually the bane of battery life), the upcoming Dodge electric vehicle will have a continuous driving range of 150 to 200 miles – more than triple the average daily commute of most consumers. Recharging will take roughly eight hours using a standard 110-volt household outlet but can be cut down to four by using a typical 220-volt household appliance power outlet.

Industry reports also claim that Chrysler may tap Lotus to build at least part of the new sports car due to the British company’s expertise in lightweight aluminum construction and sports handling pedigree. Tesla Motors also uses Lotus to build much of its all-electric Roadster, however most of the electrical componentry is installed in the US. A Chrysler deal with Lotus could potentially lead to a Tesla-like car at a much lower cost.

While the final look of the car will be dramatically different to the Lotus Europa body in which the technology resides, Dodge has unveiled a number of compact rear-drive sports concepts in recent years including the stylish Demon and Zeo concepts.