Ever feel like a sucker? Well right now, you should. After taking billions in bailout loans from the Federal Government, promising a half-million electric cars on the road by 2013 and even going so as establishing an electric vehicles program, Fiat-owned Chrysler has renegged on pretty much all of its electric car promises after axing the ENVI program.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who saw Chrysler’s revised vehicle lineup last week, but it still feels like a kick in the gut.
ENVI was established in 2007 after Daimler dumped Chrysler and Cerberus briefly stepped into the picture. The program was designed to electrify the Chrysler lineup, and last year they showed off several electric vehicles with “production intent” including a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, Town and Country Minivan, and the Dodge Circuit, a Tesla Roadster ripoff. The program even went so far as to deliver a working prototype of the Circuit to several news outlets. Alas, Chrysler’s new Italian overlords aren’t so optimistic about electric cars, and the ENVI program has been killed while still in its infancy.
That doesn’t mean they have entirely given up on electric cars; Former head of ENVI Lou Rhodes is now executive in charge of electric vehicle development and the ENVI product development will be integrated into the rest of the design process. What about that pledge to provide a half-million electric cars by 2013? Not so much. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said that the battery technology isn’t quite there yet, and he expects total electric car sales to account for less than 2 percent of its lineup by 2014… about 60,000 cars.
So, while the rest of the world dives head first into alternative propulsion technologies, Chrysler/Fiat pretty much wussed out. All Chrysler/Fiat really has to offer on the fuel efficient front is a dual-mode hybrid pickup truck (as part of the new “Ram” brand) and the Fiat 500… a good car, but good enough to save Chrysler from itself? Doubtful. There are even rumors of an all-electric commercial van, but again, this isn’t going to save Chrysler. A once-great American car company, reduced to transparent lies and Italian ownership.
And if you think I’m being too negative, the only company with a reliability rating worse than Chrysler is… Fiat. Yeah, this is gonna end ugly.