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Army leasing Chrysler electric cars for on-base use

by Bill Cawthon on

The U.S. Army has begun ordering the first of 4,000 electric vehicles for on-base transportation use. The first six will come from Chrysler’s Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) division.

All the vehicles will carry the Army logo, “Army Green, Army Strong.”

The Army wants to reduce its fuel consumption by 2 percent in the next six years. Since the speed limit on U.S. military bases is generally 25 to 30 miles per hour, Deputy Assistant Army Secretary Paul Bollinger says it doesn’t make sense to purchase and deploy vehicles with a top speed of 100 mph or more. The GEM, which is classified as a “neighborhood electric vehicle,” has a top speed of 25 mph.

The Army will lease the electric vehicles and plans for the first 800 to be delivered by April 2009 with orders of 1,600 additional vehicles to be delivered in 2010 and 2011. If the program is successful, the army may procure up to 10,000 electric vehicles for use on 40 bases.

While Chrysler is delivering the first vehicles under the new program, the Army says it may source vehicles from several manufacturers.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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