The 2008 Dodge ZEO—Zero Emissions Operation—concept vehicle is a four-passenger, all-electric, “2+2” sport wagon that embraces the bold, emotional characteristic of the Dodge brand. With its 23-inch wheels-to-the corners, heroic proportions and muscular forms, the ZEO exhibits a new youthful breed of muscle-machine interface.
Dodge owners and those who will desire the ZEO concept are unquestionably driving enthusiasts. They are less family-oriented, with a desire for things that are high-tech, and place less emphasis on pure practicality. While they boast environmental and overall responsibility, they also exhibit a “need for speed.”
“The Dodge ZEO concept is designed to break the paradigm of what an electric car should look like,” said Bill Zheng, Dodge ZEO principal exterior designer. “An electric car can be as expressive as any gasoline-powered vehicle. The Dodge ZEO concept proves that point, and then some.”
To this end, the ZEO’s body has been given an active, three-dimensional form, with the fenders boldly offset to the body.
The advanced propulsion system powering the Dodge ZEO concept is electric-only with a 64 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack capable of at least 250 miles.
Resting in a rear-wheel drive layout, Dodge ZEO’s 200 kilowatt (268 horsepower) single-electric motor contributes to a 0-60 mph time in less than six seconds, which rivals Chrysler’s famed HEMI powerplant.
Nestled between the robust circular wheel arches, ZEO’s taut, elongated beltline ends with the signature Dodge kick-up at the rear, where the reverse-angle C-pillar is planted directly over the rear wheel arch.
Inspired in part by the architecture of a Möbius strip, Dodge ZEO’s rakish A-pillars curve into extended roof rails that twist and converge as they race rearward. The windshield glass continues in an unbroken, curving plane nearly to the rear of the car, giving both front and rear passengers an unimpeded, all-around view while showcasing ZEO’s inventive interior.
Other expressive details include “scissor” doors, front and rear lamps treated as separate sculptural forms, and the “ZEO Orange” and dark silver exterior.
“The lit crossbar grille,” says Zheng, “is designed to communicate the use of electricity as the ZEO’s power source.”
“The Dodge ZEO concept is an example of designing for people who are used to a dynamic lifestyle and who are surrounded with information and virtual friends at all times,” says Lou Gasevski, principal interior designer of the Dodge ZEO concept.
A slim center console slopes down from the windshield of the Dodge ZEO, creating a dual-cockpit effect. It then levels off to divide the cabin by continuing clear to the back panel. To avoid visual clutter, customary controls and a viewing screen are set flush with the surface.
Instead of a conventional instrument panel, the steering wheel, column and instruments are treated as a single freestanding design element. The Dodge ZEO concept’s steering wheel has two vertical spokes, set closely together, leaving 80 percent of the rim “open” for maximum visibility. The laid-back center hub, containing the driver air bag and auxiliary switches, is stationary, with the wheel rim revolving around it. Left and right horizontal paddle-levers just behind the wheel rim activate the remote radio functions.
With its bold exterior and curving, sculptural interior, the ZEO concept appeals to Dodge brand customers who want value, expressive design and useful technology.