Nearly every automaker in the world has already rolled out at least one electric vehicle, even in limited quantities and markets. But not Chrysler, at least not yet. That will soon change though with an electric Fiat hitting dealerships next year, though the Chrysler-Fiat alliance still seems skeptical of vehicular electrification.
Biding Time, Making Moves
Their skepticism is well-warranted; electric vehicle sales have not taken off like many analysts and politicians hoped. Nissan’s big gamble with the Leaf EV has not paid off yet, with sales falling below 400 units in the month of July. Ford’s Focus Electric is selling in the double digits, and other electric cars aren’t even on the map.
Chrysler, on the other hand, has forgone too much investment in electric cars, and it has surged back to profitability after nearly caving into bankruptcy. But government regulations at both the Federal and state levels mean that eventually, Chrysler will have to build electric cars for sale in certain markets. And that is exactly what they will do.
“We do believe in electrification, sparingly and for the right kinds of targeted applications,” Chrysler’s VP of engine and electrified propulsion Bob Lee told Bloomberg News. That’s corporate talk for “Consumers aren’t buying EV’s, but we have to sell them in California or pay huge fines.” To that end, Chrysler will begin selling, in limited quantities and markets, an electric version of the Fiat 500.
Chrysler is also still working on hydraulic-hybrid minivans and plug-in hybrid pickups, but those are so far limited to testing in government and commercial fleets. At one time, Chrysler announced an in-house electrification program called ENVI that promised to deliver three electrified vehicles in the next couple of years.
After merging with Fiat though, the ENVI program was shuttered, and Chrysler instead focused on improving its conventional car lineup. That’s proven to be a wise move so far, but with gas prices inching upwards once more, the Auburn Hills automaker may find its less-than-fuel-efficient fleet suddenly suffering from sales backlash. Eight-speed transmissions only go so far in full-size, rear-drive cars.
Source: Bloomberg News