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Li'l electric Vipers: 2009 Dodge Circuit EV concept car

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With styling borrowed from the Viper and a Lotus-built body, the Dodge Circuit was designed to grab attention. Its zero-to-sixty times were, in those pre-Tesla days, a quick five seconds, with a sub-13-second quarter-mile. Yet, the driving range was quoted as being at least 150 miles.

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The car debuted at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, small but highly visible in its bright orange paint.

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The press release claimed, "The body sides feature a deep scallop, providing visual depth and also a functional rear-brake air duct. At the rear, the functional elements blend with design to create a uniform finish." The front was clearly derived from the powerful Dodge Viper; the rear appeared to have Dodge Intrepid and Charger influences in the tail-lights. The Dodge Circuit EV's color was created for the car and dubbed "Tangoreen."

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The press release claimed, "The uncomplicated interior of the Dodge Circuit EV delivers a combination of pure function and athletic refinement. The cockpit design puts complete control of the car at the driver's fingertips. Nestled within a leather-covered instrument cluster are two primary analog-face gauges. A digital display conveys information regarding the electric-drive system." The deeply bolstered seats, center console, and instrument panel were covered in leather.

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The car had a high-end sound system, power windows and door locks, air conditioning, and cruise control.

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The Dodge Circuit EV had 200 kW (268 horsepower) electric motor driven by a lithium-ion battery system, designed for a slow 110V charge or a fast 220V charge. The claimed top speed was over 120 mph.

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The Dodge Circuit EV was just 153.5 inches long and 67.5 inches wide, standing 45.3 inches tall, making it much smaller than the Viper (175.7 inches long, 76.4 wide, 49.1 tall) - and the Viper is very small indeed, when compared to a Dodge Challenger. The 91.7 inch wheelbase was about seven inches shorter than the famed snake.

Despite being electric, the Circuit was rear wheel drive; it had regenerative braking and an independent front and rear suspension. The front tires were P195/45ZR17, and the rears were P235/40ZR18.

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Chrysler made a number of electric concept cars after its first true production electrics. The Chrysler TEVan, produced in the early 1990s, used a 54 kilowatt motor, with a top speed of 65 mph and a range of 80 miles on lead-acid batteries designed to last 20 years or 100,000 miles. Some of these are still driven by individual owners.

The company made numerous electric concepts, none of which saw production, in the 2000s. The closest in looks and design to the Circuit was the original Dodge EV.

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Also see the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

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Concept cars are often made so a car's feel can be evaluated, problems can be foreseen, and reactions of the public can be judged. Some concepts test specific ideas, colors, controls, or materials - either subtle or out of proportion, to hide what's being tested. Some are created to help designers think "out of the box." The Challenger, Prowler, PT Cruiser, and Viper were all tested as production-based concepts dressed up to hide the production intent.

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