Chrysler Goes Public With Dodge’s Future: Electric Cars Missing

Dodge EV-1 ENVI


Yesterday, Chrysler/Fiat’s new CEO Sergio Marchionne presented the 5-year business plan he hopes will save Chrysler, and bring Fiat back to the US market for the first time in nearly 30 years. The company presented its plan during a live, seven-hour-long marathon webcast, which was notable for two things: first, a virtually unprecedented willingness to discuss future product, and, second, the conspicuous absence of New Chrysler’s much-ballyhooed ENVI electric-vehicle division.

What happened to the Dodge EV? Can we expect some innovative green tech from Marchionne’s new Dodge product future? The depressing reality, after the jump.

November 4th, 2009 was a big day for the New New Chrysler (which had only just been New Chrysler since Cerberus bought the company from Daimler back in the not-so-distant past of 2007), and Sergio’s team totally blew it.

To be fair, yesterday’s business plan did shed a lot of light on the company’s product future (which was its stated goal) but notably absent from the company’s Dodge product roadmap (below) was the Dodge EV sportscar. The darling of Old New Chrysler’s ENVI line of “forward thinking” concept vehicles, the Dodge EV was said to be a “go” for production in 2010.

You can see for yourself where the Dodge EV concept is headed, below …

Dodge product roadmap.


There is simply no mention of the EV, no mention of a new, sporty car, and no plans to even introduce a new small Dodge until the 2013 calendar year. What I do see, however, is a new FULL-SIZE CUV (read: SUV) and a new Dodge Viper street-racer under consideration for 2012 and beyond.

That’s right: Marchionne’s plans to drag Dodge the brand back to relevance in the 21st Century don’t include efficient new EVs and lightweight technology from partners like Lotus, Alcoa, and others, but rather consist of bigger CUV/SUVs and an all-new Viper.

Marchionne also plans to divide the current Dodge brand in two: a Dodge brand for “sporty, youth-oriented cars,” and a Ram brand with a new focus on over-the-road semis and new heavy-duty trucks.

OK—so there’s is no spectacular new Dodge EV hyper-exotic halo car coming in 2010, but as I’ve always expressed that was a diversionary con to begin with and never had any legs. The real problem here is that Marchionne and his bunch don’t seem able or willing to see the writing on the wall. Consider what they’re proposing:

  • no new small cars until 2013
  • more brands to spend marketing/ad dollars on — not less
  • bigger cars, trucks, and CUVs — not smaller, more efficient cars

And that’s just Dodge! I still have Jeep, Chrysler, and Fiat rants to rant about!

Maybe, though—just maybe—there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and someone within Chrysler realizes what a horrible bunch of pseudo-ideas all this bogus market posturing and purposeless re-branding really is. I hold on to this hope because, tucked away inside the webcast’s online slide show, Autoblog editor John Neff found this:

This is actually part of Chrysler's slide show.  Really.

It’s a picture of a black sheep with a racing stripe.  Somewhere inside Dodge, hidden, there is at least one person who understands that Chrysler without ENVI is a dinosaur, and Dodge without the Ram is a sheep.  A follower. So, while the Ram brand will at least continue producing class-leading clean diesel engines (that’s something, right?) the only thing that will separate the New New Dodge from the competition will be some hastily added racing stripes.

Think I’m kidding? Old New Dodge Nitro and New New Dodge Nitro, below.

Old New Dodge Nitro

Bigger cars, bigger trucks, bigger wheels, and lots of bitchin’ racing stripes = our tax-dollars at work.

Image CreditsChrysler, via Autoblog and The Truth About Cars.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.