Rate It: The Other Lotus-Based Electric Sports Car

By Colin Wood
Sep 28, 2020 | Dodge, Lotus, Rate It, Circuit EV, Europa

As it turns out, Tesla wasn't the only company to use a Lotus chassis as the base for an electric car.

At the 2009 North American International Auto Show, the then-Chrysler Group unveiled electrified concepts to promote its upcoming ENVI electric car division. A Town & Country, a Jeep and the Dodge EV were slated to go to production.

The sleek-looking, two-seat, electric sports cars didn't quite look like anything else in Chrysler Group's North American portfolio, and for good reason: The Dodge EV, also called the Circuit EV, was based upon the Lotus Europa S produced from 2006-'10.

The Europa was a relatively unsuccessful car despite being, essentially, an Elise with more creature comforts. However, its use of a turbocharged Ecotec inline-four similar to the one found in the Opel Speedster and the Vauxhall VX220 may have also had an impact.

Regardless, Dodge got its hands on the chassis and replaced the Ecotec powerplant with a 200 kW lithium-ion battery. The Circuit could reportedly accelerate from zero to 60 in less than 5 seconds and reach a top speed "greater than" 120 mph. The concept was even said to have a range of 150-200 miles.

The Circuit, along with the other potential electrified concepts, would be killed off after Fiat acquired Chrysler Group later in 2009.

Do you think the Circuit would have done well for Dodge, or was Fiat right in pulling it in favor of the electrified FCA products we have today?

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View comments on the GRM forums
Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/28/20 4:17 p.m.

This is called "missing the boat".

nderwater UltimaDork
9/28/20 4:19 p.m.

Man, I wonder how different things would be if not for the financial crisis. Remember Cash for Clunkers?

9/28/20 4:32 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

This is called "missing the boat".

That's it. This is the best comment that could be made.

Show's over.

EricM SuperDork
9/28/20 4:34 p.m.

I like it!

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
9/28/20 7:39 p.m.

Did anyone for even a second think they would build this?  That Viper-based Chrysler jukebox seemed more likely to enter into production than this thing.  And it isn't because the idea isn't sound; I think it's great and they used a good chassis and possible partner in Lotus to do this with.  It made plenty of sense but it would have been a commitment to something really new and risky.  Chrysler hasn't done that since, uh, the Viper?  The Prowler was not nearly as much of a commitment as Viper or this thing. 

A bunch of vulture capitalists and Fiat afterwards were not going to weather the storm when you've got Jeep and Ram sitting there making you money with so little comparative effort.  The engineering for this should have been sold back to Lotus for Proton to build.

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