Chrysler might unveil electric cars

Chrysler LLC said Friday that it is preparing to reveal some of its plans to its dealers next week, and one dealer said they'll get a look at the next-generation electric vehicles the automaker is developing.

Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers across the country will get “insight into our business strategies” Tuesday via videoconference at about 100 movie theaters across the nation, Chrysler spokesman Stuart Schorr said.

Although Schorr declined to reveal the presentation's contents, Alan Helfman, vice president of River Oaks Chrysler Jeep in Houston, said Chrysler told him the event will show off the plug-in electric cars that the automaker has been working on.

“This new generation of cars, from what I've been hearing, are the next generation of electric cars,” Helfman said. “They should be great sellers.”

A similar presentation is planned for dealers in Canada, Mexico and international locations, he said.

Helfman said he wasn't familiar with the specific features of the vehicles that will be presented but they would be powered by a plug-in electric powertrain.

Chrysler has felt pressure to break away from its dependence on fuel-guzzling trucks and sport utility vehicles amid the recent decline in auto sales. But it has been behind other automakers that plan to launch electric vehicles in the next few years. Its sales also have taken the hardest hit among the major Detroit automakers

Earlier this week, General Motors Corp. unveiled its own plug-in electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, which it expects to roll out in late 2010.

The Volt will be able to go 40 miles on a single charge before a small gasoline engine kicks in to recharge the batteries, allowing the car to travel hundreds more miles.

Toyota Motor Corp. also is pushing to get a plug-in electric vehicle to market in 2010, while Ford Motor Co., which is testing 20 on roads in California, says it is five years away from producing them in significant numbers.

Associated Press Writer Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.