The Cars That Money Can’t Buy – Dodge ESX3

Sun 9th Jun 2019

Sometimes your wallet won’t stretch to purchasing your dream motor. But don’t worry too much, there are some cars that even the biggest bank balances can’t buy, the dream cars that will forever remain a dream. These are the concept cars that never go into production.

Dodge ESX3
Bill Clinton’s legacy as President of the United States may be best remembered for his inability to inhale and his exploits with a girl called Monica, however he may also have sparked a motoring revolution which allowed us all to breathe the air a little easier.

In 1993, Clinton challenged the big three American car manufacturers, Ford, GM and Chrysler, to produce a vehicle which could meet modern demand, but more importantly achieve 80 miles per gallon in fuel economy.

The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles spawned the Prodigy for Ford and the Precept for General Motors, but it was Chrysler’s ESX series of concepts which certainly caught the imagination and in some respects best resembles the hybrid technology we know today, as seen on Toyota’s groundbreaking Prius.
Chrysler began testing for the PNGV project in 1996, with the ESX1 and improved on that with ESXII in 1998, but it was ESX3 which was the company’s best contribution to the project. Whilst the ESX3 never really achieved Clinton’s dream of 80 miles per gallon, it paved the way for a generation of hybrids by bringing together an effecient diesel engine, an electric motor and lithium-ion battery to achieve an average of 72 miles per gallon.

Weighing in a just 2,250 pounds, achieved with injection-molded thermoplastics, the ESX3 met all US safety standards but was also comfortable and roomy, as well as being 80 per cent recyclable.

"At DaimlerChrysler, we always have our eye on the consumer," said Tom Gale, Executive Vice President - Product Development and Design for DaimlerChrysler at the time.

"While we've achieved tremendous gains in fuel efficiency with the ESX3, we've put that technology in a dynamic design that is clean and safe, that has the comfort, utility and performance consumers demand - and is closing in on affordability."

That affordability was key. So many concept cars are simply too expensive to produce, and while the ESXI and ESXII were far more expensive than a traditional combustion engine, Chrysler executives reckoned that the ESX3 was only $7,500 more expensive.