The Fiat-Chrysler five-yearplan calls for a renewed emphasis on fuel economy standards and will introduce the a plug-in hybrid minivan, a first for the brand. Automotive News reports that the Chrysler Town & Country plug-in hybrid minivan will actually arrive a year early, coming to dealerships in 2015 instead of 2016.
Chrysler quite literally invented the entire minivan segment in the 1980s with the Town & Country and Dodge Caravan, and they still lead the market. One area Chrysler hasn’t been so strong in though are hybrids, pretty much totally ignoring the segment save for a few half-assed attempts in the mid-2000s. The brand did commission a series of plug-in hybrid pickups, but that didn’t lead anywhere, with Fiat bringing the EcoDiesel V6 to the Ram truck brand instead.
That technology may have influenced the plug-in minivan design, though Chrysler also tinkered with a hydraulic-hybrid design based around its best-selling minivan. A traditional gas-electric setup is will be used in the 2015 model, though CEO Sergio Marchionne is still no fan of electrification. Marchionne told Automotive News;
“I think you need to be very, very careful if you think that electrification, given its inherent limitations on range, especially in markets like the U.S., will effectively displace combustion. It will never provide the travel distance that you require, especially based on what we know today about the storage capabilities of batteries.”
Keep in mind, this is the same guy who says the company loses $14,000 for every Fiat 500e it sells. Marchionne pretty much hates electric cars, and even hybrids seem low on his priority list, though a plug-in minivan would pretty much have the market to itself, and a commercial version might would probably have a wider appeal than a pure electric van of limited driving range like the Nissan e-NV200.
Chrysler executives have claimed that its plug-in minivan could rival the fuel economy of the Prius V, which is rated at 44 city and 40 highway for a 42 MPG combined rating Add to that perhaps 20 miles of pure electric driving range (speculation there) and you have a hybrid vehicle that is equally useful to soccer moms and business owners alike, from a CEO who disparages electrification every chance he gets.