Autocar is reporting the Lotus-Europa-based Dodge Circuit electric sports car has been canned.
This report comes after news just last month from CNN Money that indicated the first ENVI vehicle to see production would be the Circuit. Chrysler also signed an agreement with A123 Systems last month to provide batteries for the Circuit.
What’s more, Chyrsler just launched a brand new ad campaign a few days ago featuring the Circuit! Running in newspapers all over the United States, the ads attempt to restore some confidence in Chrysler’s future with the tagline, “We’re building a new car company”. Yet of the three vehicles featured in the ad (2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler 200C Concept, and the Dodge Circuit EV Concept), just one is a production vehicle. What greater way to show confidence in your new company than to cancel one of those three cars!
We are left with a few different conclusions. If the Circuit has indeed been cancelled, it makes a statement on how fast the tumultuous auto industry changes today. These days, predicting the future of automakers is better left to fortune-tellers, and even more so when it comes to companies as cash-strapped as Chrysler.
Or was the Circuit never intended for production at all, despite Chrysler’s public claims to the contrary? Chrysler needed something to woo members of the U.S. Congress in order to loosen the government purse strings, and what better way to do that than with an exciting electric car? Take an existing car Americans won’t recognize (Lotus Europa), replace the engine with some prototype batteries, and slap some Dodge badges on it. Voila, Chrysler has a future.
Perhaps the report is simply a smokescreen that will enable Chrysler to surprise the world once the production Circuit is ready. This doesn’t make much sense though – Chrysler needs all the positive publicity it can get. Some analysts wager Chrysler’s brand credibility has been irreparably ruined in the past couple months.
Nonetheless, insiders say Lotus is in talks with some European manufacturers to setup another electric car cooperation similar to the partnership with Tesla. Collaboration with Abarth on an Elise-based sports car has apparently stalled, however.
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