2008 Dodge Zeo Concept

The Dodge Zeo (ZEO = “zero emissions operations”) concept is the sportiest of Chrysler‘s electric trio for the 2008 Detroit show. Twenty-three-inch wheels, scissor doors, a backlit crosshair grille, and a sleek and aggressive stance make the swoopy Zeo’s sporty aspirations clear from three show-stands away, which is exactly how Dodge intended it.

According to the car’s principal exterior designer, Bill Zheng, the Zeo, “is designed to break the paradigm of what an electric car should look like. An electric car can be as expressive as any gasoline-powered vehicle.”

Interior designer Lou Gasevski adds, “The Dodge Zeo concept is 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.”

Observers of Gasevski’s work inside the Zeo might not make any virtual friends, but they still may be attracted to the milled-aluminum seatbacks and door handles, fabric-inlayed dashboard, and blue LED accent lighting. The Zeo’s steering wheel is particularly funky, in that its two spokes are placed vertically at the bottom of the wheel, leaving lots of room for the driver to view the elaborate message center in front of the wheel; like some Citroens’ steering wheels, the Zeo’s wheel rim rotates around its fixed center. This concept doesn’t contain Chrysler’s trademark beverage cooler, but it does feature video monitors in the front seatbacks.

Like the Jeep Renegade and the Chrysler ecoVoyager, the Zeo uses a 268-hp (200-kW) electric motor for primary propulsion, but in this case, the motor drives the rear wheels only. Because of its svelte 2650-pound curb weight, Chrysler projects that the Zeo would be the quickest and fastest of the three concepts: 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. Since it has more batteries, the Zeo’s all-electric range is 250 miles–much farther than that of the Chrysler or the Jeep. However, the Zeo has no range extender, so theoretical travelers wouldn’t have an on-board backup if their batteries ran out of juice.

If Chrysler could pick only one of its Detroit concepts to build as a production version, we’d pray that the Zeo would be their choice. It’s certainly ours.

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