January 5, 2001


L.A. Auto Show:

Dodge Powerbox hybrid!

Dodge PowerBox
Click for larger image

The Dodge PowerBox hybrid concept
vehicle combines brawny looks with an advanced
powertrain that’s easy on the environment.

Unveiled at the 2001 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show on
Thursday, the rugged sport-utility concept provides
the performance of a powerful V8 engine, but achieves
60 percent better fuel efficiency than a comparable
SUV, with near zero emissions. The vehicle is powered
by a combination of a supercharged V6 engine that runs
on clean compressed natural gas (CNG) and an electric
motor that provides added power for acceleration and
passing.

Mark Allen, Senior Designer at DaimlerChrysler
Corporation, wanted to evolve the muscular “all Dodge”
design he had originally created in the successful
1999 Dodge Power Wagon concept vehicle.

“The exterior design elements express the strength of
the brand,” said Allen. “It is instantly recognizable
as a Dodge. From its large, separate drop fenders
based on the classic 1946 Power Wagon, to the
crosshair grille, this truck is bold, powerful and
capable. We refer to it as the Dodge DNA.”

At the same time, “PowerBox is a vehicle with a
conscience,” said Richard Schaum, Executive Vice
President, Product Development & Quality,
DaimlerChrysler Corporation. “Introducing a
CNG-electric hybrid SUV, with patented
‘through-the-road’ (TTR) technology, gives consumers
the option of an environmentally-friendly vehicle
without sacrificing their wants and needs for both
performance and utility.”

Dodge PowerBox
“The driver would never know the powertrain was any
different,” Schaum added. “When they step on the gas
pedal there is no difference in the way this vehicle
performs from a conventionally powered truck.”

The Dodge PowerBox has all the performance of a big
displacement V8 engine plus the fuel efficiency of a
small, supercharged CNG engine. As a super ultra
low-emission vehicle (SULEV), the PowerBox hybrid SUV
has a range of more than 350 miles (563 km), triple
the mileage of most CNG vehicles and even more than
most conventional sedans.

Compared with a conventional Dodge Durango, the
PowerBox is projected to achieve 25 mpg (9
liters/100km) resulting in a 60 percent increase in
fuel economy without sacrificing horsepower. Off the
starting line the PowerBox charges forward from 0-60
mph (97 kph) in about seven seconds, providing
performance more in line with a sports car than a
utility vehicle.

“PowerBox will save customers money at the pump,” said
Schaum. “If every SUV sold in this country were
equipped with this hybrid propulsion system, customers
would save more than 142 million gallons (538 million
liters) of gasoline per year.”

The importance of applying this fuel-saving hybrid
technology in the increasingly popular SUV segment
solves the dilemma of having to choose between
performance, utility and fuel efficiency. With the
PowerBox, owners can have it all.

“Additionally, we are establishing a commitment to
bringing advances in low emissions technology to the
market as soon as they are technically and
economically feasible,” said Schaum.

Dodge PowerBox, body off
Click for larger image

PowerBox’s hybrid powertrain draws power from two
different sources. A supercharged 2.7-liter, V6 engine
with automatic transmission drives the rear wheels,
while a Siemens Automotive electric motor provides
additional power to the front wheels. The V6 engine is
fueled by CNG and generates 250 horsepower (187 kW)
while the electric motor adds another 70 horsepower
(52 kW). The electric motor assists the CNG engine
during acceleration and recaptures energy normally
lost during deceleration. The engine and electric
motor are not coupled in any way, connecting only
through the road, hence the name for the patented
technology.

Another technological highlight is the PowerBox’s body
construction, which consists of a lightweight
recyclable thermoplastic. This injection molded body
technology has been demonstrated most recently in the
Dodge ESX3 and the Jeep(r) Commander 2.

Joel Baccus, PowerBox’s Senior Interior Designer,
reflected the boldness of the exterior in the
interior, providing a natural yet inviting atmosphere.

“We set out to design a warm, domestic interior space
that would balance the power and ruggedness of the
exterior design,” he said. “Something that would feel
more like home furnishings.”

The interior of the PowerBox was inspired by a desert
photograph. “We felt the interior color palette should
suggest an outdoor environment so we used the natural
colors of a red rock canyon.”

A straightforward, honest instrument panel design
spans from door to door, creating a sense of
simplicity. Rustic red leather and woven tan inserts,
combined with subtle brushed stainless steel accents,
provide a comfortable environment.

A high seating position offers the driver command of
the road while PowerBox’s “kneel-down suspension”
provides ease of entry and exit for both driver and
passengers. The vehicle drops three inches (76 mm)
after being placed in “Park”.

Other features include occupant restraint belts
integrated in the seats providing a totally open and
clutter-free zone. The swing-slide rear doors maximize
passenger accessibility and provide easy access to the
rear storage area.

“Structurally, the B or center pillar is integrated in
this swing-slide rear door,” explained Kenneth Mack,
Director-Program Management at DaimlerChrysler’s
Liberty & Technical Affairs. “The door is latched at
the top and bottom providing the same strength as a
traditional middle latch.”

Dodge PowerBox lift-tail-combogate
Dodge PowerBox lift-tail-combogate

Another first is what PowerBox engineers call a
“lift-tail-combogate.” This patented configuration
eases loading and unloading. “A tailgate within a
liftgate offers customers an option. Depending on the
cargo, one can either lift the tailgate up or drop the
tailgate down for extended cargo length,” Mack added.

Wide-open spaces are a dominant theme throughout the
Dodge PowerBox’s interior. With seating eight
passengers, it offers 24 percent more interior space
than the conventional Durango that seats seven.
Additionally, backseats fold down flush with the rear
cargo floor for increased space and cargo hauling
capability. With rear seats folded flat, the overall
cargo length is seven feet (2.44 m), one foot more
than in the Durango. While extremely roomy inside,
with a width of 77 inches (1956 mm) and a wheelbase of
125 inches (3175 mm), overall length is only one inch
(25.4 mm) greater than that of the Durango.

“Dodge PowerBox stands as a pyramid of strength, a
substantial SUV with power and presence yet, more
gentle on the environment than any competitor in its
class,” said Allen.

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