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2011 Dodge Circuit EV - First Drive Review June 09

Automakers aren’t usually receptive to the idea of us driving their concept cars, as most of these are little more than million-dollar auto-show paperweights that may not even move under their own power. The case of the Dodge Circuit EV, however, is different. Lou Rhodes, president of Chrysler’s electric-car ENVI division, had no qualms about giving us the first chance to wring the neck of this electric-powered sports car on a road course—the 1.7-mile handling loop at the company’s proving ground in Chelsea, Michigan.

Shown last fall for the first time, the Circuit is a not-sold-here Lotus Europa (itself a slightly swollen version of the Elise) that’s had its powertrain replaced with a 268-hp, 295-lb-ft electric motor and a large, 35-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Comparisons with the Lotus Elise–based Tesla roadster are inevitable.

When looking for a place to dock a 600-pound battery pack, a front-engine platform is all wrong from the perspective of weight distribution. And finding a mid-engine chassis from a manufacturer that will entertain inquiries for low-volume orders quickly trims the options down to one: Lotus. Its lightweight Elise and Exige S sports cars provide a tiny annual sales footprint in the U.S. (less than 2000 units), but the company is set to expand with its larger, more passenger-friendly Evora.

Rhodes touts the versatility of electric powertrains: A lower-power version of the Circuit’s motor can be shared with various other mainstream vehicles such as the Chrysler Town & Country minivan and the Jeep Wrangler and Patriot; the company has well-sorted running prototypes of each. While the Circuit is battery-only, the other variants are of the range-extended electric variety, as in Chevy’s Volt, which is powered by an electric motor but has a gas engine onboard to generate electricity if needed, which prevents occupants from being marooned when the juice runs out. Continued Here with pictures and Video. Check it out!

2011 Dodge Circuit EV - First Drive Review/Sports Car Central/High Performance/Hot Lists/Reviews/Car and Driver - Car And Driver
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