Electric need for speed
For a long time electrically powered cars were just part of eco-buyers dreams. However, Dodge ZEO concept shows that it is possible to connect a need for speed and green technology.
We could describe the new Dodge ZEO as electric sport car. It is a four-passenger road warrior for those that enjoys good design, care for ecology and still want to push the pedal to the metal. ZEO is short for Zero Emissions Operation, and in this case this really stands true because ZEO is all-electric sport wagon. And it is still Dodge.
The problem with electric cars was their range. Not that there are no other difficulties, but that is particularly annoying because nobody will buy a car that's perfectly green but need to be refilled (replugged?) every few miles. Dodge ZEO overcomes that problem with so called "advanced propulsion system". In English, that means that its 64 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery is enough for slightly over 400 km (250 miles if you are in the United States). When you convert that battery capacity in horse power you get 268 of them (200 kilowatt), and that will take you from zero to 100 km/h (0-60 mph if you are in the USA) in six seconds.
From the outside Dodge ZEO is pure sport car. Lines flow smoothly front to back while parts around wheels give strong, robust feeling. Between the robust circular wheel arches elongated beltline ends with the signature Dodge at the rear. That's the exact spot where the reversed C-pillar is connected directly over the rear wheel arch. Dodge's A-pillars curve into extended roof rails, the windshield glass continues as curved plane nearly to the rear of the car. That means that passengers have clear view on all sides. ZEO is full of details such as not-so-usual doors and front and rear lamps.
And interior? It has something in common with the command bridge of star ship Enterprise. We must admit that it provoked mixed feeling, but after some time (read: minutes) it seems that all bad feelings are here no more. Although it may look a bit overdesigned, or designed with SF feeling, it stands true that the interior is very elegant. The combination of white, blue and grey gives luxurious look. Very clean, very nice design, lines that flowing as it is a sculpture, the interior of the new Dodge will attract you in a few minutes.
Instead of a conventional instrument panel, the steering wheel, column and instruments are treated as a single freestanding design element. The Dodge ZEO concept's steering wheel has two vertical spokes, set closely together, leaving 80 percent of the rim "open" for maximum visibility. The laid-back centre hub, containing the driver air bag and auxiliary switches, is stationary, with the wheel rim revolving around it. Left and right horizontal paddle-levers just behind the wheel rim activate the remote radio functions.
Dodge ZEO is concept car that we would like to see on the road, and the one that proves that ecology goes hand in hand with desert road and wind in your hair. ■